Giants lose Affeldt for the year after hand injury

Jeremy Affeldt had just come in from swimming with his kids on Thursday when he pulled out some frozen burgers to start preparing lunch.

The pitcher then sustained a deep cut in his right hand while using a knife to separate the patties, an injury that has ended his season early. He said he came within a milimeter of an artery, and two friends with him were emergency medical technicians who quickly applied pressure to the wound and bandaged him up before going to the hospital.

He later came into San Francisco from nearby Walnut Creek to see Giants doctors. Affeldt underwent surgery about eight hours after the injury to repair nerve damage in his pinkie.

"I should have used hot water," Affeldt said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "If I had used a butter knife, nothing would have happened. The burger was coming loose and to wiggle it loose I used the knife and it pushed through the burger and right through my hand. It was not a slice, it's an actual stab. ... If it had been a serrated knife I could have done more damage."

At the hospital, Affeldt asked to be stitched up and told doctors he needed to pitch Friday night, when the Giants opened a three-game weekend series with the rival Los Angeles Dodgers. But it wasn't that simple.

As if things couldn't get much worse for the reeling Giants, now this bizarre injury.

"I'm very thankful it was my right hand," Affeldt said. "I said, 'Can I pitch the rest of the year?' They said I could squeeze a glove fine but even if I was playing catch and the ball hits me in the palm there, in the long run it could make the hand weak. In day-to-day life I could be holding a cup and not be able to keep a hold on it."

Manager Bruce Bochy on Friday called it an "unfortunate accident." Affeldt went 3-2 with a 2.63 ERA and three saves in 67 outings this season. He is now in a cast but is able to move his hand lightly.

"He lacerated himself pretty good," Bochy said. "It was a paring knife. He was trying to separate some frozen burgers and it slipped. It went pretty deep in his hand. ... It went to the bone. He lost feeling in his pinkie."

"Crazy," outfielder Cody Ross said.

Affeldt had given up only three earned runs over his last 22 1-3 innings and his 1.21 ERA since the All-Star break was seventh-lowest among NL relievers with a minimum of 20 innings.

"I know it's a freak injury," Affeldt said. "It could have been a lot worse. I feel really bad. I know Brian Sabean, Bochy and the coaching staff and players have been dealing with freak injuries all year and I feel bad I added to it."

Affeldt said there isn't a rehab process for this injury and he expects to be fully healthy come spring training. Getting the surgery done immediately was important, he said.

"There are a lot of positives to the negative that happened," he said.

Injured lefty Barry Zito, meanwhile, could be activated from the disabled list soon to "help out anywhere" for the struggling World Series champions, Bochy said. Zito, who was away from the team Friday for personal reasons, has been sidelined with a recurring foot and ankle injury.

Another injured left-hander, Jonathan Sanchez, will not throw at all this weekend as he continues to experience swelling in his sprained left ankle after his sessions. Bochy wasn't clear on when Sanchez might play catch or get off a mound again.

Injured closer Brian Wilson, last year's majors saves leader, threw 25 pitches in a bullpen. He is scheduled to rest for a couple of days and likely throw again from the mound Monday.

"He threw fairly well and was letting it go," Bochy said.

It could be that Wilson only returns this season if San Francisco is in the division chase and "if we think he's fully recovered," Bochy said. The Giants began Friday trailing the first-place Diamondbacks by 7½ games in the NL West.

Bochy also noted that the All-Star closer wants to pitch and might want to get in at least one game before the offseason.

Outfielder Nate Schierholtz, nursing a fracture in his right foot, traveled to Vail, Colo., to see foot specialist, Dr. Tom Clanton. Bochy said he would continue to wear a walking boot for at least another week and might not play again in 2011.

"That's up in the air," Bochy said. "If it's going to be two weeks, it's going to be real close."

Schierholtz fouled a pitch from Atlanta's Tim Hudson off his foot in the series opener with the Braves on Aug. 15. Schierholtz played through it, then had an MRI on Aug. 22. A CT scan followed to confirm the fracture.

Schierholtz was outwardly frustrated Friday upon to returning to AT&T Park from the whirlwind trek to Colorado.

"He confirmed that I set myself back a lot the week I played on it," Schierholtz said. "Maybe if I'd stayed off it I'd be back by now."