SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- With the physique of an All-Pro tight end, it's no surprise that Michael Morse does his offseason workouts with NFL stars, including 49ers running back Frank Gore.
Morse, listed at 6-foot-5, 245 pounds, rises over his new Giants teammates and is expected to show off his light-tower power when position players first take the field Wednesday. But for all his strength, the left fielder knows that, in baseball, a player is only as good as the small bones in his hand allow him to be. A year ago, one of those bones sent Morse spiraling downward.
A slide early in the 2013 season with the Seattle Mariners left Morse with a bone spur that kept him from fully rotating his left wrist. One week after surgery, Morse was able to swing a fungo bat; three weeks later, he was 100 percent healthy.
The problem: Nobody figured out until October that he needed the procedure.
By then, Morse's season was over, and it was a rough one. He hit .215 for the Mariners and Baltimore Orioles, with a .381 slugging percentage that was his lowest since 2008.
"I thought, 'This is it,' " Morse said. "This is how it happens to guys (as their careers wind down)."
Morse's ailment was a mystery during the season. MRI exams and X-rays didn't show any damage, and the doctors he consulted continually looked for a ligament injury that wasn't there.
Former Giant Mark DeRosa thought Morse was dealing with the same tendon issue that derailed DeRosa's career and led to a procedure that he once described as "a total failure."
"I talked to DeRo," Morse said. "He was like, 'Look at me now.' "
DeRosa is now in television, a job the talkative and fun-loving Morse seems perfect for. But the 31-year-old wasn't ready for a career change, not even close. Morse consulted with another veteran, Jayson Werth, and decided to see hand specialist Richard Berger at the Mayo Clinic. Unable to do push-ups and often crippled by arm numbness after swings, Morse was desperate for a fix.
Morse said Berger told him: "Even if we don't find anything, I'm cutting you open. Something is wrong."
After months of failing in his quest for answers, Morse underwent an ultrasound that showed a bone spur Berger was able to shave down.
The 2013 frustration has been replaced by an overwhelming sense of relief. Morse said he's 100 percent healthy and that he couldn't be more excited to be in orange and black.
DeRosa might have been wrong about the injury, but Morse, who signed a one-year deal with the Giants in December, says his friend hit a home run with his postsurgery career advice.
"DeRo said this is the place to play," Morse said, smiling. "I love it here."
"He has a different look about him this spring," Bochy said. "I think he sees that he is a guy that's in the mix and a guy knocking on the door."
The Giants system is filled with intriguing pitching prospects, and Escobar is expected to be the first starter to reach San Francisco, possibly as soon as this summer.
A's manager Bob Melvin says Tommy Milone has a chance to be in the rotation when the season starts. Page 3