SAN FRANCISCO -- The most feared individual in baseball isn't a slugger such as Miguel Cabrera or an ace such as Clayton Kershaw. It's Dr. James Andrews, the orthopedist known for performing Tommy John-style elbow ligament replacement surgery on many of the game's best pitchers. Matt Cain will meet with Dr. Andrews on Wednesday morning.
Cain's elbow inflammation hasn't subsided since he was put on the disabled list, so he'll get a second opinion and possibly a third. The Giants know what Dr. Andrews is famous for, and manager Bruce Bochy did his best to quell any fears, saying it "would be jumping to conclusions to say this is a Tommy John situation."
That would be the worst case and would likely sideline Cain until the 2016 season. An MRI earlier this month didn't reveal any damage to the ulnar collateral ligament, and Cain has insisted that Tommy John surgery is not a consideration. The bone chips in his elbow are a persistent problem.
"He's frustrated. This thing is staying with him," Bochy said. "We're trying to find out what's going on. It's just another opinion to see if we're on the right page. We're looking at one of the best doctors as far as the elbow (and he'll take) a look at a guy we think a lot of. More than anything, he'll check out the elbow and the ligament and make sure we're not missing anything, and we're on the same page."
The Giants discovered in 2010 that Cain has loose fragments in his pitching elbow, but he has pitched through the injury and for the most part pitched well. This season, Cain is 2-7 with a 4.18 ERA. Cain's strikeout rate (7.0 per nine innings) is the lowest since his rookie season and the walk rate (3.2) is his highest since 2008.
The Giants were so concerned about Cain that they traded two prospects for Jake Peavy on Saturday. There is no timetable for Cain's return, but even a procedure to remove the bone chips would end his 2014 season. The Giants are hoping that's all they're dealing with, and the goal right now is just to get Cain healthy. The right-hander is owed $20 million in each of the next three seasons.