Cain really torn' over his future

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Cain really torn' over his future

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Amid a report that contractnegotiations have stalled between the Giants and Matt Cain, the right-hander acknowledgedthat he is really torn about whether to commit long-term or test the marketas a free agent after the season.

Asked whether he was optimistic or pessimistic that anextension could be reached before the April 6 season opener, Cain pondered thequestion for a time.

I guess I dont know, Cain told CSNBayArea.com. Imhesitant to answer that question because Im thinking about the times Ive hadplaying with these guys, growing up in this organization. Im definitely goingto enjoy this season to the fullest with whatever happens. But you also thinkabout going to free agency, and you might not have that chance again. So youreally are torn between the two sides. Itd be hard to say its one way or theother.

For now, the choice is not difficult. Although Cain declined todiscuss specific terms, he made it clear the Giants havent offered a contractin line with his perceived market value. Cain made one more thing clear: hisagents have a firm idea of what that value may be.

We feel like we do, he said. Yes, we do.

Industry sources estimated Cain would fetch more than 100million on the open market, perhaps exceeding a six-year, 120 milliondeal.

Fox Sports reported Wednesday night that the chances of theGiants re-signing Cain this spring were rapidly diminishing. A sourcedescribed that characterization as overly dramatic, but confirmed the two sidesremain far apart in talks. Although no further talks were scheduled, both sidesremain open to continuing the dialogue which by all accounts, has not beencontentious.

RELATED: Contract talks stall between Cain, Giants

Giants GM Brian Sabean has said the organization has thefinancial wherewithal to sign Cain to an extension and also commit long term toTim Lincecum, who will be a free agent after his two-year, 40.5 millioncontract expires following the 2013 season.

But with the Giants rotation becoming ultra-expensive, theteam would assume a major risk by signing Cain long term with a year remainingon his deal. They could mitigate some of that risk by waiting until theexclusive negotiating period in October to extend him.

Waiting runs its own risks, though.

Baseball sources expect the Giants archrival, the LosAngeles Dodgers, to be major free-agent spenders next winter once a newownership group drops more than 1 billion to purchase the franchise. There would be nothing more painful to Giants fans thanseeing Cain, one of their most loyal favorites, in Dodger blue. Such a signingcould tilt the balance of power in the NL West, too.

REWIND: EXTRAS -- Cain mum on contract

Cain said the negotiations, even this deep into the spring,havent weighed on his mind. His teammates agreed.

I think he has a really great ability to let things go,left-hander Barry Zito said. Hes always been able to do that. Hes a verymature pitcher and a mature guy."

Although many observers expected a swift resolution to Cain's contract situation, Zito said he wasn't surprised that it hasn't turned out that way.

Its more complicated than, The Giants want Cain and Cainwants to stay,'" Zito said. "This is a game and we try to keep it that way in most aspects.But the fact is, its a business. Youve got to be as tedious about gettingbusiness handled as you are about stuff on the field. Thats just a fact.

Cain would start the Giants home opener April 13 if theclub uses four starting pitchers in the first turn through the rotation. Thatsa possibility because they have a day off on their season-opening road trip,which could allow Ryan Vogelsong more time to build arm strength after missingthree weeks because of a lower back strain.

Giants Notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday

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Giants Notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday

CHICAGO -- Joe Panik's leadoff homer in the series opener was a jolt, but the Giants are a much more dangerous offense when Denard Span is clicking atop the lineup, a spot ahead of Panik, and they hope to have that duo going Wednesday. Span got treatment all day Tuesday and said he could return to the lineup against Kyle Hendricks. 

"The swelling has gone down," Span said of his sprained left thumb. "The thing to do is to come in tomorrow, test it out, and if it feels good, you strap it on."

Span said an X-ray came back clean, but he didn't grab a bat Tuesday to test the thumb, focusing instead on treatment. He is batting .326 in nine games since coming off the DL. His replacement in center this week, Gorkys Hernandez, was 0-for-3 against Jon Lester, lowering his average to .160. 

--- The main story from the second game of this series: Johnny Cueto is now dealing with a second blister, and you can see the lack of movement on his pitches. The Cubs took advantage. Lester didn't need much help while throwing a 99-pitch complete game in two hours and five minutes. 

"He threw a lot more changeups than we've seen in the past," Buster Posey said. "He's shown it in the past but tonight he had good command of it. It wasn't just a show-me pitch. He used it a lot and threw it to lefties as well.

Posey twice grounded short rollers in front of the plate.

--- Posey's throw to nab Javy Baez on Monday was one of the best of the year, and on Tuesday afternoon, Bruce Bochy said, "If he's given a chance, I don't think there's anyone better in the game." That might be true, but Willson Contreras is threatening to get into the conversation. He threw an 85 mph rocket to second in the fifth to nab Eduardo Nuñez. If you're wondering how Lester -- who flat-out has the yips about throwing to first base and doesn't do it -- has allowed just six stolen bases this season, look no further than his young catcher. Long-term, Contreras is the guy I would expect to compete with Posey for Gold Gloves. 

"Nuney, with his speed, can go," Bochy said. "Their catcher made a great throw. Put it right on the money."

--- From before Tuesday's game, what do the relievers think of the new hidden bullpen at Wrigley? And if you missed the Power Rankings the other day, the records are outdated, but there are updates in here on old friends Matt Duffy, Chris Heston, Tommy Joseph, Adalberto Mejia, Yusmeiro Petit and others. Petit in particular is incredible ... just keeps doing his thing. 

--- This play was made by the shortstop. That's good for the old UZR.

Now dealing with a second blister, Cueto gives up three homers to Cubs

Now dealing with a second blister, Cueto gives up three homers to Cubs

CHICAGO — Even after losses, Johnny Cueto tends to find a way to flash a smile or two in post-game interviews. He is as competitive as it gets between the lines, but off the field he embraces a relaxed attitude. 

There was none of that Tuesday night at Wrigley. Cueto wore a dour look while describing a 4-1 loss to the Cubs, perhaps because he is a man searching for answers. Cueto was already pitching with a blister for the first time in his career. On Tuesday, he admitted he’s now trying to make the ball dance while dealing with a second blister. 

The first, on his middle finger, popped up at the end of the spring and has bothered Cueto off and on. The second, on his index finger, formed in St. Louis last week. 

“It’s not an excuse,” Cueto said several times. “I was getting hit.”

The Cubs crushed three homers, including a 470-foot bomb from Kyle Schwarber. All three pitches leaked right over the heart of the plate, and Cueto admitted that he can't get that final twist on the ball as he normally does. A tad of his movement is missing, and hitters are taking advantage. 

“It’s just those pitches I left hanging,” Cueto said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. “When you leave pitches hanging or put them right in the middle of the plate, you’re going to pay the price.”

The homers — by Schwarber, Jason Heyward and Anthony Rizzo — represented 60 percent of the hits Cueto gave up. He struck out eight in six innings.

“It’s a little unlike Johnny to make mistakes like that,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “You like to think you could make a mistake and get away with it, but he didn’t tonight. A couple of fastballs he pulled over the heart of the plate and then one cutter.”

Catcher Buster Posey said the Cubs were on Cueto’s heater, so the duo tried to adjust. You can’t pitch without your fastball, though, and Cueto’s isn’t quite as explosive as it was in his first year with the Giants. The velocity is down a couple of ticks, but it’s unclear if that too is related to the blisters. 

What is clear is that Cueto is a different pitcher in his second season in San Francisco. He has a 4.64 ERA and opposing hitters are batting .253 with 11 homers. Through 10 starts last year, Cueto had a 2.83 ERA and was holding hitters to a .229 average. He had allowed just two homers. 

“Gosh, it’s just probably a few more mistakes than he made last year,” Bochy said. “He’s still competing so well and he gives you a chance to win every game.”

Cueto made it through six despite the long-ball issues, but that wasn’t enough against Jon Lester, who would have faced Cueto in Game 5 last October. Lester needed just 99 pitches to carve up the Giants for a complete game. He threw 70 strikes. 

That’s the type of efficient performance the Giants came to expect from Cueto last year. Cueto still expects it from himself, but his fingers aren’t cooperating. Asked if he would take a short stint on the DL to get right, Cueto said he can’t. He needs to keep pitching and have callouses form. Plus, any break without throwing would be a significant blow to a team trying desperately to stay within shouting distance of a playoff spot. 

“Basically, it makes no sense whatsoever,” to take a break, Cueto said.