Programming note: Giants-Pirates coverage kicks off today at 3:30 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
PITTSBURGH – Marco Scutaro wants to keep playing. He also wants to be able to straighten all 10 of his fingers when his career is over.
He’s trying to find a way he can have both -- perhaps as soon as this weekend, when the Giants play in Atlanta.
Scutaro has what orthopedists call “mallet finger,” a deformity caused by tendon damage that leaves the patient unable to straighten the fingertip. The Giants’ veteran second baseman saw a hand specialist on Wednesday, one day after he was hit by a pitch on the finger in the seventh inning at PNC Park.
Scutaro was told that surgery was not required and the specialist did not rule out playing once the pain and swelling subsides in a couple days. But the usual treatment options – complete immobilization in a splint, or the insertion of a pin -- would not work if Scutaro tries to play.
The pin, especially, wouldn’t apply because Scutaro would run the risk of snapping it while playing, such as sliding into a base.
“So we’re trying to figure something out,” said Scutaro, who was wearing a modified splint when he arrived at the ballpark. “I want to play. I also want to have a good finger. I don’t want to live with a finger like this.”
If Scutaro doesn’t keep the finger straight for at least four to six weeks, it would stay that way permanently.
“If it bends, you have to start from zero again,” he said.
Scutaro expressed his desire to Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who was on board with Scutaro trying to play. The club already is playing without Angel Pagan (hamstring) and Pablo Sandoval (strained foot).
"There's no hesitation for us," Bochy said. "If he's comfortablt and he can do it and wants to try, it's in his hands. He knows what he's looking at."
As Bochy pointed out, several players have dealt with the consequences of lifelong bent fingers. Current Giants pitcher Jean Machi is one. Former Giants Travis Ishikawa and Jeff Fassero are others that the training staff mentioned to the manager. When it involves the pinky, functionality is minimally compromised.
The only question is how long the initial swelling and pain will take to subside.
"We'll see how this calms down int he next two or three days," Bochy said. "We're in a holding pattern until then. It's possible this will work with the (modified) splint. ... It's a little of a long shot, but he could be playing in Atlanta."
Scutaro entered Tuesday fifth in the National League with a .332 average and his 26 multi-hit games were the most in the NL. Since he was acquired by the Giants in July of last season, Scutaro’s 165 hits are the second most in the majors, just behind Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera (166).
Scutaro also is hitting .306 with runners in scoring position and .400 (8 for 20) with RISP and two outs.
But can he hit with some kind of scaled down splint on his finger?
“The way I grip the bat will actually help me,” said Scutaro, demonstrating how the knob rests between his ring and pinky fingers. “I don’t use my pinky too much.”
Last year, the Red Sox’s Dustin Pedroia injured a ligament in his pinky finger in July and played through the season, having surgery in October. It wasn’t quite the same injury, though.
Scutaro has sustained plenty of hand injuries over the years. Glancing down at his knobby and crooked fingers, he smiled.
“I’m pretty sure I’ll just end up with bad fingers,” he said. “They’re messed up anyway.”
Scutaro has a better shot of playing against the Braves than Angel Pagan, whose hamstring rehab continues to move at a deliberate pace. Bochy said Pagan was improved but would nto be activated before the road trip ends on Sunday. He still hasn't done any jogging or baseball activities.
The progress report is better for third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who had "a hop in his step" and said his strained left foot was improved. Bochy is now fully confident that Sandoval will be ready when eligible to come off the DL on June 24, when the Giants open their next road trip -- another three-city jaunt -- at Dodger Stadium.