SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Shortstop Omar Vizquel is expected to miss four to six weeks with a torn medial meniscus in his left knee, jeopardizing his availability for Opening Day and causing a ripple effect throughout the rest of the Giants' infield. Vizquel left camp Tuesday afternoon to return to San Francisco and will undergo arthroscopic surgery Wednesday afternoon to have the torn portion removed. Team orthopedist Dr. Ken Akizuki will perform the surgery, with head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner on hand to supervise. Groeschner told a club spokesman that the Giants hope Vizquel can return by the first week of the regular season, "but the knee will tell us that."
Manager Bruce Bochy said that Kevin Frandsen will become the Giants' primary shortstop in Vizquel's absence. This interrupts the active competition between Frandsen and Ray Durham for the starting second-base job, although both will continue to be evaluated to determine who remains in the lineup when Vizquel returns. Rich Aurilia, projected to be the top utility infielder, will concentrate on playing third base. Vizquel's injury jarred a camp that had remained placid without left fielder Barry Bonds' onerous presence. It also challenged the Giants' intention to rely heavily on defense, at least at the season's outset. Vizquel, an 11-time Gold Glove winner, was central to that plan. "We hope Omar gets back as soon as possible because we know what he brings to this team and this organization," Frandsen said. "All of us have the deepest respect for him, with the way he plays and the way he acts." Vizquel initially reported knee trouble last Thursday, when he was held out of conditioning drills as a precautionary measure for what was described as inflammation. He declared that the ailment was "no issue," although he was grim-faced as he said so. Since then, Vizquel abstained from heavy running as he participated in workouts. The swelling around the knee didn't subside and a magnetic resonance imaging examination confirmed the meniscal tear, leading Vizquel and the Giants' medical staff to opt for surgery rather than treatment. "My knee was feeling good," Vizquel told a club spokesman. "I wanted to give it a [test] in order to make a decision. It didn't work. I felt a little pop when I was running. That's what I wanted to see, if I could sustain the pain." Vizquel, who turns 41 on April 24, has endured scattered episodes of knee trouble during his 19-year Major League career. He sprained ligaments in his left knee in 1990 and 1992 and needed two right knee surgeries in 2003. He has averaged 150 games per year since then.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.