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.