Giants reliever Affeldt out with fluke knee injury
By JANIE McCAULEY
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt has landed on the disabled list for a non-baseball injury for the second time in less than eight months.
The left-hander sprained his right knee Saturday night when he reached out to catch his 4-year-old son, Walker, as the 60-pound boy jumped off the couch to hug his arriving father.
Affeldt said he heard a pop but didn't think there was anything seriously wrong. Then he woke up at 4 a.m. Sunday with throbbing pain and headed to the ballpark a few hours later after icing the knee with a package of frozen vegetables. An MRI exam revealed the sprain for Affeldt, who last Sept. 8 sliced his non-throwing hand nearly to the artery while separating frozen hamburgers.
"There was some light swelling but there wasn't a lot, so I knew it probably wasn't a huge deal or a major tear," Affeldt said Tuesday. "But it was enough pain that I didn't think I could get off the mound if I had to."
He was placed on the DL again Tuesday before San Francisco opened a three-game series with the Marlins. The Giants filled his roster spot Tuesday with lefty Travis Blackley, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Fresno. The Giants also designated outfielder Tyler Graham for assignment.
Manager Bruce Bochy said Affeldt's recovery is typically seven to 10 days, but he could need a short rehab assignment.
"I was actually separating frozen hamburgers and I slipped on the floor," Affeldt joked. "I came home and my sons are usually pretty happy to see me and he jumped off the couch, ran over and I squatted down to give him a hug and when he jumped, I kind of caught him weird and my knee kind of shifted in a bit. I felt some pressure on the knee. It wasn't that sore, it was just a little stiff. I've pitched with a stiff knee before, it happens."
Last year, when the paring knife he was using pushed through a hamburger patty and deep into his hand, Affeldt came within a millimeter of an artery and underwent surgery about eight hours after the injury to repair nerve damage in his pinkie.
Affeldt - 0-1 with a 4.09 ERA in 10 outings this year - said his 4 1/2 -foot son is exceptionally large for his age, already measuring around the 50th percentile for an 8-year-old on growth charts.
"I don't tell him that it was him," Affeldt said. "He just asked me what I did, I said, `Picking something up,' he said, `What?' I said, `Something.' It's not something I really want my son to know. It just happened."
The pitcher wore a brace Tuesday that he will likely use when he returns to the mound to give him some added support for his lead or plant leg. If he had to go back on the DL, Affeldt is glad it's still early in the season.
"I feel better now than I did two days ago, quite a bit better," he said. "I'll get over it. You go back and I've got a career of fluke injuries. I have all kinds of weird stuff going on. But thankfully it's not any arm injuries. If I can injure everything but my arm I'll be alright."
Those other injuries include tearing his left oblique muscle - tough to do for a left-hander - tearing his groin tendon off the bone and a fingernail blister that sidelined him for six weeks and included the removal of half his fingernail for it to go away.
"I've had all kinds of interesting deals," he said. "I think they actually considered that DL a broken fingernail, which I wasn't real happy about. It just seems weird."
The well-traveled Blackley was 3-0 with a Pacific Coast League-low 0.39 ERA with 19 strikeouts to only three walks in four appearances and three starts for Fresno. This marks the 29-year-old Blackley's third major league stint after the Australian was with Seattle in 2004 and the Giants in '07.
"I'm not the same guy I was back then," Blackley said. "I have a lot more confidence in myself now. One thing about growing up Australian was to check your ego at the door."
Blackley spent last year pitching in Korea, then back home with the Melbourne Aces earlier this year.
"I haven't been walking people, which obviously has been a factor," Blackley said of his success thus far. "Pitching in front of 45,000 a night in Seoul to 3,000 in Fresno, I'm a lot more calm. Pitching in a big situation isn't as daunting."
Updated May 1, 2012