SAN DIEGO -- Order was restored in the Giants' bullpen on Wednesday, as closer Brian Wilson was activated, as expected, from the 15-day disabled list. Intent on giving his relief ace the game experience he needs to regain his form, Giants manager Bruce Bochy installed Wilson in Wednesday's ninth inning with the Giants leading the Padres, 8-1. Wilson's stint didn't follow the script, as he was charged with three runs in two-thirds of an inning, exiting after 23 pitches. San Francisco held on to win by four runs.
"[Very] poor," Wilson said, rating his first outing since recovering from a strained oblique muscle in his left side. "But we won, so that's all that really matters." Facing Will Venable, who he fanned in last year's regular-season finale to clinch the National League West crown, Wilson coaxed a fly ball to right field. But Alberto Gonzalez hit a sharp comebacker that grazed Wilson for an infield single, and he moved to second on Orlando Hudson's walk. Brad Hawpe dribbled an infield hit to shortstop Miguel Tejada, whose wild throw plated Gonzalez and enabled Hudson to reach third base. Wilson struck out Ryan Ludwick and Bochy summoned Jeremy Affeldt, who yielded Chase Headley's two-run double. "I didn't want to overextend him," Bochy said. Wilson, who entered and left to standing ovations from the ample number of Giants fans at PETCO Park, said he felt disgusted with his outing. "You don't want to start the year off not finishing your own inning. It's embarrassing," he said. "Start the year off with three runs, [that's] not exactly an ideal situation. But it's all about bouncing back, and it's all about coming out and nailing it down when we need it." San Francisco cleared roster room for Wilson by placing right-hander Santiago Casilla on the DL with an inflamed right elbow. Said Wilson, "It's nice to be part of the team again. When you're on the DL, you feel like a castaway. No pun intended." Actually, the bearded Wilson fully intended his reference to Tom Hanks, who sprouted plenty of facial hair in the movie "Cast Away". It might have been a triple entendre, since Hanks' marooned character named his volleyball "Wilson." Wilson's side began bothering him after a March 23 exhibition appearance against the Angels. But he threw freely last Sunday in a simulated game at Dodger Stadium and showed no ill effects afterward, which convinced San Francisco's baseball and medical staffs that he was on course to resume pitching. Wilson's return restores the bullpen to its full complement of relievers, despite Casilla's temporary departure. The Giants would have had to scramble to fill the closer's duties without Wilson -- which never happened -- since no save opportunities developed in their first five games. "He gets guys in their usual roles and helps sort out the bullpen a little bit," Bochy said. Wilson's side injury, combined with back discomfort that he endured earlier in Spring Training, limited him to five exhibition appearances. The right-hander led the Major Leagues with 48 saves last year and recorded six more in the postseason. Casilla's move to the DL is retroactive to April 1. He hasn't pitched since the March 31 season opener at Los Angeles, when he relieved Tim Lincecum and allowed an eighth-inning run in a 2-1 loss. "He's had a tender elbow since his first outing, so we've stayed away from [using] him," Bochy said.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.