Affeldt hurt his hand while slicing frozen burgers in his backyard, and the paring knife cut down to the bone in his lower right palm and caused nerve damage, leaving him without feeling in his right pinky in what Giants manager Bruce Bochy an "unfortunate accident." Although the injury was in his non-throwing hand, continuing to pitch could cause further long-term damage.
Affeldt told The Associated Press he had just come in from swimming with his kids when he began cutting the frozen burgers, coming within a millimeter of an artery, and two friends at his home, both emergency medical technicians, immediately applied pressure to the wound and took him to the hospital, where he underwent surgery Thursday night.
"I should have used hot water," Affeldt said in a phone interview with the AP. "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.
"I'm very thankful it was my right hand," he continued. "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."
The lefty reliever has a $5 million club option for 2012 with a $500,000 buyout. After a down year in 2010, Affeldt mostly returned to his 2009 form this season, owning a 2.63 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) in 67 appearances while recording more than twice as many strikeouts (54) as walks (24).
Affeldt's 2.21 ERA since the All-Star break is the seventh lowest among National League relievers, and his .144 average against left-handed hitters is the third lowest in the Majors among pitchers with more than 75 batters faced.
"I know it's a freak injury," Affeldt told the AP. "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."