Cain reiterates opening day 'cutoff' for contract talks


Cain reiterates opening day 'cutoff' for contract talks

SURPRISE, Ariz. Matt Cain admitted his contract situationhas floated in and out of his mind this spring. He doesnt want that to happen when the games really matter.

Cain reiterated that the April 6 season opener would be acutoff for negotiating a long-term extension. Although both sides havecharacterized it as a soft deadline, Cains language was as firm as hisfastball.

Well, if the season starts, its a cutoff and thats kindof what were thinking about, said Cain, after holding the Texas Rangers tothree hits and two runs on a pair of solo homers in seven innings Thursdaynight. Neither one of us wants that lingering over our heads. (GM Brian)Sabean has been great about that.

Cain said he hasnt spoken to his agents every day, butnegotiations are ongoing and there remains mutual interest in completing a dealwithin the coming days. Giants CEO Larry Baer said earlier Thursday that theclub wasnt making a lowball offer, and that our desire is for him to remain aGiant. Theres nothing weve seen from him that shows his desire is not to be.

Cain acknowledged that the contract talks have entered hismind this spring. Its certainly on everyone elses mind, too. If a deal isntreached before the team jets home Sunday, Cain is sure to be deluged withquestions from media and fans alike.

Youre paying attention to it, but its one of thosedeals, said Cain, who can become a free agent after this season. If your mindstarts wandering, youve got to pull yourself away from it. Any time I maybeget too deep in thought about anything like that, I have to pull myself awayand focus on what I need to do on the field.

Cain received a different kind of snap to attention in thesecond inning, when Mitch Moreland and Mike Napoli hit consecutive home runs.Cain responded by retiring 17 of the next 19 hitters, making it through seveninnings on 91 pitches.

Matts ready, said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who wasthen asked if there was a better No.3 starter in baseball.

No, Bochy said. Hes not a No.3 starter. Thats the wayit falls in our rotation, sure, and he and I talked about that. He knows. Hesa No.1 in our eyes and in everybody in baseballs eyes, too.

Cain said he still needed to hone his slider, which wasinconsistent. Otherwise, hes ready to go and pumped to be a part of one ofbaseballs best rotations. As he has said on several occasions, the Giantsstrong rotation is one of the allures about staying here long-term.

Were all really excited about going out and competingagainst each other, trying to see who will throw the most innings, Cain said. Illleave the strikeouts to Timmy and Bum. They can punch some tickets. Theyreready and Vogelsong is getting healthy and I know Zito is excited. Were allready to get the season started.

Giants spring training Day 9: Bumgarner, Melancon face hitters

Giants spring training Day 9: Bumgarner, Melancon face hitters

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Madison Bumgarner aims to get all 27 outs every time he takes the mound, but on Tuesday the coaching staff gave the ace a nice view of the man who will help out if his nights are cut short. 

Bumgarner threw his first live batting practice session of the spring on the main field at Scottsdale Stadium. Mark Melancon, the new closer, followed him. Both players said they felt good. Both also found things to work on in advance of opening day. 

“Strength-wise I felt pretty good, really good, actually,” Bumgarner said. “My command up in the zone was right where I want it. I’m pretty happy with that. My cutter was pretty straight, but that usually comes around pretty quick.”

Melancon didn’t even throw his go-to cutter, saying he usually pockets it until later in camp. He’s getting the feel for his curveball back because he doesn’t throw it until he reports. Like Bumgarner, Melancon said he’s where he needs to be physically.

“I feel really good,” he said. “In years past there has been some slowness but I don’t feel that this year. I’m right where I want to be.”

The Giants have not finalized a Cactus League rotation, but Bumgarner will likely throw an inning in Friday’s opener. Melancon could follow him, as he’ll throw in the early innings until late March. He said he’ll talk to pitching coach Dave Righetti about closing a game or two over the final days of camp so he can start locking his routine down. It’s probably a lock that he’ll close out that first Bay Bridge Series game back at AT&T Park. 

ICYMI: Here’s actual (shaky) footage of Bumgarner throwing today. At one point, he gave Denard Span a hard time for missing a slider that he was told was coming. Span had a good reason. “I didn't understand him when he said it because of his accent,” he said. 

ICYMI, PART II: The latest podcast is a couple of interviews with Derek Law and Josh Osich. Law explained how he ordered 800 chicken nuggets for his wedding. 

CUETO UPDATE: The Giants now expect Johnny Cueto to join camp this weekend. His status for the WBC is up in the air. Speaking of the WBC, trainer Dave Groeschner will be leaving camp on Feb. 27 to work with manager Hensley Meulens and the Netherlands. Bullpen catcher Taira Uematsu is also working with the team, which opens play in Seoul. Anthony Reyes will be head trainer while Groeschner is gone.

PROSPECT WATCH: Bruce Bochy said right-hander Ray Black was a standout during early live BP sessions. “He had a hell of an outing yesterday,” Bochy said. “They said he was really good.”   Black, 26, still throws 100-plus. He still has command issues, though, with 32 walks in 31 1/3 innings last year. If he can get over that hump and stay healthy, he might rocket to the big leagues.

QUOTABLE: After just about every start last season — most of which were dominant — Bumgarner said he wasn’t happy with his mechanics. He said Tuesday that he’s still searching for the perfect feeling. “I was being a perfectionist,” he said. “If you’re being a perfectionist, I really haven’t had (my mechanics) where I wanted the last couple of years. It’s not like it’s too far off, obviously.”

Johnny Cueto hopes to join Giants camp this weekend

Johnny Cueto hopes to join Giants camp this weekend

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Giants have been watching high-quality clips of Johnny Cueto all spring, even though the co-ace has remained in the Dominican Republic. On Monday, manager Bruce Bochy finally managed to get face-to-face with Cueto. Kind of. 

Cueto spoke to Bochy, trainer Dave Groeschner and others via FaceTime, and all involved finally managed to hammer out a schedule for Cueto’s arrival. Cueto has been in the Dominican Republic tending to his ill father, Domingo, but he is expected to arrive in Scottsdale this weekend. Cueto is working to secure a visa for his father, who will travel with him.

Bochy wanted to have a long discussion with Cueto to get a sense of how ready he’ll be for the World Baseball Classic. Cueto’s participation is still up in the air, and not just because he has missed the first week of camp. There is a chance, Bochy said, that Cueto will choose to stay in Scottsdale to continue taking care of his father. The Dominican Republic opens play in Miami on March 9.

“He said he knows he’s got to make a decision real soon regarding what he does,” Bochy said. “Pitching or not pitching, he’s got to let them know as soon as possible.”

Cueto has been throwing to hitters at a facility in Boca Chica. He threw a 45-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday.