An upbeat Brian Wilson said Sunday he has complete confidence he'll be back pitching by this time next year, that the Giants won't miss him that much, and that he probably has been pitching on "borrowed time" since the end of the club's 2010 World Series season.
Wilson, who likely will have season-ending Tommy John surgery after an MRI on Friday revealed "structural issues" in his right elbow, hinted he might have overtaxed his arm in 2010 when he led the majors with 48 saves and then added six more in the postseason run to the title. He also confessed he continued pitching Thursday in Colorado even though it was clear something had gone wrong with his arm when he was an out from finishing off a 4-2 Giants victory.
"It felt like tennis elbow after that," Wilson said. "But I was still able to finish the inning and my mindset was, 'OK, if it's inflammation, get out of your mess. If this is season-ending, your last pitch is going to be preserving (Madison) Bumgarner's win, and not walking off the mound a failure.' That's just how I pitch. I don't care how painful it is."
Wilson underwent Tommy John elbow surgery in 2003 while pitching at LSU and said that while rehab will be tough, he has no concerns about his future in the game.
"By no stretch of the imagination is my journey over with here,'' he said. "This is just a mild bump in my road. It's never been easy when I've pitched, or lived. So this is an opportunity for me to get a better arm, you know? How is that disappointing? I get to throw harder.
"And I like my odds to become more involved in the community. Kruk and Kuip better watch out, because I'll be upstairs in the booth. I may announce some games, maybe win an Emmy."
Wilson said he'll visit noted elbow surgeon Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla., some time this week and also get other opinions before making a final determination about surgery. He added that decision should come before the end of the week.
"I'm not down at all," he said. "The likelihood is, yeah, the season's over with. I'm getting a couple more opinions. But we all know what structural damage is, and the likelihood of me throwing again this year is minimal. I've obviously prepared for a different view of the game."
Wilson said he has no concerns that the Giants' bullpen can fill the void of his absence, and that the club still can have a successful season.
"I know a lot of people are sad," he said. "I know Giants fans are going to look at this as some huge loss, but you know, we have the best bullpen in the league. They're going to fill in my role the best they can, and I don't think they're going to falter.
"I think we're going to take the West no matter what, whether I'm here or not. I'm not going to sit here and say I'm the savior and that things are going to fall apart, not at all."
Manager Bruce Bochy reaffirmed that when he and the Giants medical staff went to the mound to check on Wilson's condition Thursday, the pitcher claimed that he had stepped in a hole on the mound and tweaked his ankle. He said nothing about the elbow.
"I know he's a strong guy and he wants to be out there every day, he's a warrior," Bochy said. "He's not always truthful and forthcoming with you, and that's the problem with Brian Wilson, that's probably why he's a little more difficult to manage.
"I don't think the innings he pitched (in 2010) was out of the norm with what has been done. It's just part of this game. You play, you pitch, and what goes with the territory sometimes is injury."
Wilson said he has no regrets about how he has managed the health of his arm over the past year and a half.
"Absolutely not, that's how I play baseball -- I push it to the limits," he said. "I was able to help our team do some great things last year, regardless of how it felt throwing the baseball."
Based on the experience of his last rehab from elbow surgery, Wilson said the monotony of rehab will more mentally grueling than physically difficult but expects to ready by next April to be back on the mound.
"I guess you can say if this was coming it's better now than any other time based on the time frame it takes to come back," he said. "It's a year. No big deal. I plan on playing forever, so this is a small percentage of my career.
"Once I'm on the mound again, next year, playing baseball, I won't look back at this and say, 'Man, that's sucked' or 'woe is me.' I don't think that way. That's selfish of me to get down because of my baseball time; I'm not like that."