It was simultaneously expected and stunning.
Two seasons after an entire year was wiped out for Will Smith due to Tommy John surgery, he has officially taken his place among the game’s best players. Smith was named to the All-Star Game on Sunday, which the Giants celebrated with a meeting before their game.
They knew their perfect closer — 21-for-21 on saves — would make it. Two years ago, Smith was not as sure.
“I don’t know if it’s sunk in yet. It feels pretty cool right now,” Smith said after the Giants’ 10-4 victory over the Diamondbacks at Oracle Park on Sunday. “To sit out that year and come back, have this kind of success — I don’t know if I ever really thought I’d be this good. But it feels good for the hard work to pay off.”
He is that good, the San Francisco representative posting a 2.01 ERA in his second season as closer. The further away from surgery the 29-year-old has gone, the stronger his left arm has gotten. It was a foregone conclusion he would be in Cleveland, but one that still touched Smith.
“I congratulated him like a week ago,” winning pitcher Madison Bumgarner said.
There was a lot of congratulating in the San Francisco clubhouse for a player who credited his teammates for his success and the Giants’ training staff for his health. Smith is popular among his teammates, and Pablo Sandoval crashed his news conference to ask if Smith could bring him back some All-Star jerseys. (Smith obliged.)
“He’s been a joy,” Bruce Bochy said. “… He’s been flawless. You look at what this man’s gone through, Tommy John. He really hasn’t been a closer before up until last year, when we gave him that role. But he’s run with it this year.
“… He’s such a great teammate, so well-respected in there. Loved. We all knew he would make the club, but still, when you get the news, and you see how happy he was…”
Smith acknowledged the rehab from the March 2017 surgery “sucked.”
It made the announcement that much more special.
“It was a rush of emotion,” Smith said. “It’s taken a long time to get back to this.”