Cain really torn' over his future

704178.jpg

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 spring training Day 41: Hwang wins award, hits game-winner

Giants spring training Day 41: Hwang wins award, hits game-winner

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jae-Gyun Hwang’s day started with an ovation from teammates who had selected Hwang as the Barney Nugent Award winner. It ended in style, too. 

Hwang’s walk-off single in the ninth gave the Giants an 8-7 win and raised his spring average to .308. Barring an injury or sudden change, Hwang will not make the team out of camp, but he’ll travel to San Francisco for the Bay Bridge Series next week and the Giants expect him back at AT&T Park soon.

“He can keep the award now,” Bochy joked after Hwang’s walk-off. “Good for him. Players love him, and the way he’s come out every day and the effort he puts in. He’s been inspiring with how hard he has gotten after it every day.”

The Barney Nugent Award is given to the player in his first big league camp “whose performance and dedication in Spring Training best exemplifies the San Francisco Giants spirit.” It is meaningful in large part because the voters are teammates, trainers and coaches. Hwang was called to the middle of the clubhouse by trainer Dave Groeschner on Saturday morning to accept the award. 

“With this being my first time coming to spring training to play baseball, I wanted to work hard and show that I belong here,” Hwang said through interpreter Mark Kim. “I think my teammates have noticed how hard I’ve worked for the team.”

The rest of the Giants have also noticed how easy Hwang has made the transition look. He said that, outside of learning a new strike zone, the adjustment hasn’t been a difficult one. He has four homers this spring, but doesn’t necessarily view that as a shining positive. Hwang said he wants to show more of an all-around game, especially on defense, and a stint in Triple-A Sacramento should provide that opportunity. 

If the rosters play out as expected, Hwang should see most of the time at third base in Triple-A. He can also play first, and he’s eager to show that he’s viable in left field. 

“I want to show I’m a versatile player,” he said. 

GAME RECAP: Chris Stratton was having a good spring, but he got knocked around by the Padres early … Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford both hit deep homers in their second game back from the WBC … Mark Melancon still has not allowed a run this spring … Hunter Pence's March slump got a bit deeper with an 0-for-3 ... Bryan Reynolds, last year’s top pick, entered as a pinch-runner and flew home from first on a Gorkys Hernandez double off the wall. 

BULLPEN BATTLES: In the front office’s perfect world, Josh Osich would be the one to take over for Will Smith, giving the team a hard-throwing lefty capable of neutralizing lefties and righties. It’s been an up-and-down spring for Osich, but he was filthy Saturday, striking out a pair in his lone inning. 

George Kontos looked even better in his inning, striking out the side. Kontos has allowed just five hits in 10 innings this spring, with 15 strikeouts. He seems forever stuck in that sixth-seventh range, but given his splits have been just about even over the years, maybe it’s time the Giants see what he can do in a more high-profile role. 

Cory Gearrin followed the previous two with a perfect eighth. Neil Ramirez struck out one and allowed one hit in the ninth. In 9 1/3 innings this spring, Ramirez has struck out 16 and allowed just five hits and two runs. He has a real shot to take someone’s job in the bullpen next week. 

ICYMI: The big news from this morning: Michael Morse will stick with the team and try to rehab/play his way back to the big leagues. And from the early afternoon, Johnny Cueto had a ton of fun with a 19-year-old he faced in a minor league game. 

NOTABLE: Bochy said that all of the players left in camp are slated to head home on the team flight Tuesday, but some guys have opt-outs on March 30, so moves are coming. This would seem a great sign for Aaron Hill, who is due a $100,000 retention bonus on Tuesday. Hill has slumped late in camp, but he’s still in position to make the team. Also noteworthy: Tyler Beede is scheduled to start Saturday’s game in Oakland. The Giants surely want to knock some MLB-stadium-nerves off before Beede heads down to Triple-A to wait for a call-up.

 

Cueto toys with young prospect in Giants minor league game

Cueto toys with young prospect in Giants minor league game

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — There is no way to really ramp up the intensity when an All-Star pitcher makes an appearance in minor league camp, so Johnny Cueto instead found a way to have a bit more fun. 

While getting his work in against A-ball hitters, Cueto had a prolonged, smile-filled battle with 19-year-old Jasrado Chisholm, one of the Diamondbacks’ top prospects. The sequence between Cueto and the shortstop from the Bahamas: 

  • Cueto just missed with a two-strike inside fastball, so he went right back to the same spot, freezing Chisholm, who smiled and nodded at Cueto, who laughed back. 
  • The next time up, Chisholm took two vicious hacks, trying to crank a homer onto Hayden Road. He missed both breaking balls by about a foot. 
  •  Before the third pitch, Cueto yelled something at Chisholm and smiled. “I was telling him to keep his eye on the ball,” Cueto said. “Because every time he was swinging, he was taking his eye off the ball.”
  •  The advice worked. Chisholm hung in on the third pitch, lining a single to left-center. Cueto laughed and pointed his glove at the teenager. He promptly picked him off of first base. “He probably doesn’t know I have a quick move,” he said. “I was having fun with a kid who wanted to actually hit against me.”

Nobody has more fun than Cueto, even on a sun-baked minor league field. He capped his day by standing in for an at-bat of his own, and he stood and watched as a young Diamondback struck him out.

The work on the mound was just what was needed: 7 innings, 85 pitches, 10 strikeouts, 0 runs. Cueto, who missed the opening weeks of camp, is ready for the season.

“I feel strong,” he said. “I feel really good."