Giants spring training Day 9: Team not ruling Cain out


SCOTTSDALE — When news trickled out that Matt Cain was not at today’s workout, it was easy to assume the worst. But Cain’s latest ailment turned out to be a minor one, a cyst that will cost him just a couple of weeks.

“I hate for him to go through what he just went through, but it was pretty minor, I think,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “The way he was throwing the ball and the way he felt, you hate for him to have a little hiccup, but we’ve got plenty of time.”

It’s hard to make definitive judgements after watching a guy throw for five minutes in a bullpen, but the Giants were encouraged by Cain’s first week in camp. Catchers insisted Cain looked sharp.

“I think he was a little ahead coming into camp with the bullpens he was taking (before pitchers and catchers reported),” Bochy said. 

[PAVLOVIC: Giants' Cain undergoes procedure to remove cyst]

The Giants are not ready to rule Cain (who also had a cyst removed — from a different spot on the arm — in early November) out of his first scheduled start of the season. He will need to rehab for about 10 days before throwing, and Bochy said plenty of time remains for Cain to get up to the 80 pitches or so that he’ll need to start sometime during the first home series of the season in early April. 

Bochy said he’ll know more once Cain and trainer Dave Groeschner return to Scottsdale Stadium, but it’ll surely be a close call. Cain’s spring calendar is getting a bit of a reset, and he’ll be playing catchup throughout March. 

The good news? Chris Heston won’t be an emergency fill-in as he was a year ago. The Giants were already planning to stretch Heston out as a starter this spring, so if Cain has to miss a start or two in April, there’s a ready-made backup plan. Clayton Blackburn is an option, too.

“We talk about this all the time, having depth,” Bochy said. “It’s nice to have that and we have some other options in camp that can help.”

FIRST LOOK: We’re getting closer to actual baseball. Today was the first day of live BP, and I posted videos on my Facebook page of Denard Span vs. Jeff Samardzija and Madison Bumgarner vs. Hunter Pence. Hitters are supposed to be behind at this point, but Pence wasted little time getting after it, taking a huge hack at Bumgarner’s second pitch. 

Bumgarner said he was really happy about that because it gave him a better idea of where his stuff is at. The opening day starter was pleased with the outing, and he only gave up one hard-hit ball, which a reporter later labeled a “single to right.” Bumgarner politely pointed out that it was a grounder to the second baseman.

Span and Gregor Blanco raved about Samardzija. “He was good,” Span said. “Really good.”

STOCK RISING: Bochy took the short trip to the minor league facility to watch Ray Black, Chase Johnson and Jake Smith throw to hitters. “The kids threw well,” he said. “They threw strikes. They did a nice job over there. I don’t want them to feel like they’ve been sent to Siberia, so I went over to see them.” Those are some big arms. We’ve talked about it before, but this bullpen is going to be just about all 95 mph and above a year or two from now. 

Nobody throws harder than Black, the 103 mph man. “He wasn’t holding back,” Bochy said of his live BP session. “I’ll say that.”

LIGHTER SIDE: When Nelly started blasting through the speakers at Scottsdale Stadium, it became pretty clear that the coaches no longer control the soundtrack. When that was followed by Rae Sremmurd, Young Jeezy, Drake and Snoop, it became pretty clear that Brandon Crawford now controls the soundtrack. Turns out he had some help.

QUOTABLE: “I’ll be doing some sprints this spring. You’ll see me on the back field. But seriously, that’s plenty of time from the time you leave the dugout. I don’t see that being an issue.” — Bochy on a new rule giving managers and coaches just 30 seconds on the field once they leave the dugout to talk to a pitcher.

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