NEW YORK -- Matt Cain is listening to his elbow and three respected doctors, and they're all telling him the same thing. It's time to have surgery.
While the Giants haven't made a final decision, Cain likely will have the bone chips in his right elbow removed in the coming weeks. The procedure would end Cain's season and sideline him for at least three months. Cain played catch Friday and said he wants to see how his arm feels this weekend, but manager Bruce Bochy conceded that the throwing session was not a precursor to Cain trying to get back on the field.
"If you're putting odds on it, odds are going to be that he will not pitch," Bochy said. "This will give him the weekend to decide who's going to (do the surgery) and when."
While surgery would keep Cain on the sidelines down the stretch, he did actually end up getting good news this week. Two noted doctors, James Andrews and David Altchek, agreed with the evaluation by Giants orthopedist Dr. Ken Akizuki that Cain does not have any ligament damage. Tommy John surgery likely would have put Cain out until the 2016 season, but he can have the bone chips removed now and still be back in time for spring training next year.
Cain, 29, said he has pitched through bone chips for 10 years and that "there is a good bit of" loose fragments in his elbow. They finally became too much of an impediment, and the Giants put him on the disabled list July 21.
"They've always been there," Cain said of the bone chips. "It's just that now they're mad and they're letting me know about it. For some reason, they got in a different spot and they got aggravated."
Cain is a three-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion. He has 95 career wins and a 3.39 ERA in 10 years in the big leagues, but his numbers tailed off this season. Cain had a 4.18 ERA in 15 starts with a diminished strikeout rate and increased walk rate.
The Giants will miss his ability to soak up innings and perform on the game's biggest stage. Cain has a 2.10 ERA in eight career postseason appearances. Bochy said Cain's injury is a big blow to the team but quickly added: "Fortunately, Jake Peavy was available to help soften that."
The Giants traded for Peavy when it became clear that Cain likely would not pitch again this season. They're hoping they won't need a fill-in in future years. Cain is owed $20 million in each of the next three seasons, and the club holds a $21 million option for the 2018 season. General manager Brian Sabean said he expects to have a healthy Cain in the fold when he approaches the upcoming offseason.
"Off the top of my head, I would say it probably wouldn't (alter the offseason plan)," Sabean said. "But again, nothing has happened yet."
Pitcher needs elbow surgery but not Tommy John procedure.
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