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Giants' Wilson vows 2013 return

San Jose Mercury News

October 20. 2012 8:26PM


ST. LOUIS - As the San Francisco Giants tried to extend the current season, closer Brian Wilson sounded eager for the next one.

Wilson, who grew up in Londonderry, N.H., delivered 30 light tosses Friday in his first throwing session since having Tommy John surgery April 19, exactly six months ago. He said he is on schedule to be 100 percent by spring training and indicated he will be ready to resume his Giants closer role by the outset of 2013.

'I'm being paid to be me,' Wilson said. 'And I'm going to be me opening day.'

The three-time All-Star spoke from the Giants dugout at Busch Stadium just a few hours before Game 5 of the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Wilson's throwing session had the feel of a big game: He let out a loud scream of delight after his first meaningful baseball activity since the operation, the second of his career to reconstruct his pitching elbow. He also shared his excitement via Twitter, writing: '15,811,200 seconds of waiting. 54,900 minutes of rehab. Today is National Play Catch Day in the Weez calendar.'

Wilson, 30, is completing the second year of a two-year deal he signed before the 2011 season to avoid arbitration. He is under team control for one final year of arbitration, but the situation is complicated by his injury and high starting salary. The Giants could non-tender Wilson and sign him to a short-term deal and have indicated they would like to do so.

In Wilson's absence, the team has gone with a closer-by-committee model for much of the season. Wilson hopes to restore the closer job to a committee of one. From 2008-11, he posted a major-league best 163 saves (in 186 chances, 87.6 percent). But the elbow injury limited him to two games this season.

Wilson diligently rehabbed in advance of a throwing session that was on schedule.

'I'm like a kid at recess. I got to play catch for the first time,' Wilson said. 'Sometimes you overlook tiny little perks of baseball, and one of them is playing catch. You take that for granted, because that's all we do all day.'

The high-energy Wilson said he was never tempted to rebel against trainers' orders by trying to speed up his time table. He conceded Friday that there were those who thought 'I would get all amped up three months ago and throw a baseball as hard as I can.

'But I like to value my intelligence. I just look at the six months as being a great time and opportunity for me to get stronger. So that's exactly what I did. I'm excited that we waited till the six-month mark.'

Giants trainer Dave Groeschner wasn't so sure the famously hardworking closer followed all orders.

'I'm sure he tested it prior to today,' Groeschner said, smiling. 'But he knew that this was his last chance. You don't see many guys with three Tommy John surgeries out there. He knows he couldn't make a mistake.

'He's been good; he's been really good.'

While Wilson declared he will be ready to rock when spring training opens in February, management is taking a more restrained approach. Groeschner said it is possible Wilson will be at full strength 11 months removed from surgery, but he acknowledged that the process could take up to 15 or 16 months.

'Trying to speculate right now is tough,' Groeschner said. 'He's being very positive, and we'd love to have him back soon. We'll do everything we can, and we know he'll do everything he can.'

Wilson will throw every three days for now and will remain in San Francisco for much of the offseason to continue the rehab program.

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