Cain's late granddad inspires desire to help needy

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Cain's late granddad inspires desire to help needy

SAN FRANCISCO Matt Cain learned so many important lessonsfrom his grandfather, Guy Miller, and gripping a curveball was just one ofthem.

Cains grandfather passed away in February, 12 years afterhe suffered a debilitating stroke. He required advanced care and resided inassisted living facility, which the family could afford.

But Cain and his wife, Chelsea, would wonder on occasion:What about the people who cant?

Thats why Project Open Hand is so important to us, saidCain, who was named the Giants nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, givento the major leaguer who best demonstrates represents the game of baseballthrough positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanshipand community involvement.

For so many people simple things in life are not so simplelater on. Even something as simple as delivering meals to people who need themcan make a difference.

Cain also devotes time and his endorsement to the GreaterBay Area chapter of Make-A Wish, Until Theres A Cure, the No H8 Campaign andthe Junior Giants program. Animal welfare is important to the Cains as well,which is why they volunteer for PAWS in San Francisco.

And two years ago, Cain was so moved by teammate JeremyAffeldts project to build an orphanage in Uganda that he signed on to help.The 10-house complex, each of which houses 10 children, opened earlier thisyear in the Gulu District not far from borders with war-torn Sudan and theDemocratic Republic of the Congo.

Affeldt, whose mission is to end human slavery andtrafficking, said many orphans are stolen or recruited to fight for the LordsResistance Army (LRA), led by demagogue and convicted war criminal Joseph Kony.

These kids could be killing people, Affeldt said. Manyof them have had their families shot and killed in front of them. Were tryingto give them a safe place where they can learn some life skills and just befree to play.

Said Cain: When I heard about it, I wanted to jump intothat. Especially now having (their daughter) Hartley, its put things inperspective and were getting involved in more childrens causes. If makingsure they have clean water, simple things like that, is something we can do, Iwant to do it.

Affeldt, the Giants Clemente nominee the previous twoseasons, was happy to see Cain recognized for his efforts in the community.

What he and Chelsea do, they do because they have a heartfor it, Affeldt said. Roberto Clementes vision is to help those in need.When Matt signed for the amount of money he signed for, I know he wasntthinking, This is for me. Its about providing for other people.

So Im very proud of him. You can be a great baseballplayer, but if youre not a good person, it really doesnt matter much. We allknow Cainer is a great person.

Affeldt is taking a speaking trip this winter to Korea(Korean women are the most commonly trafficked sex slaves in the world) andthen will visit a village in Thailand, where he financed the construction of abasketball court in a center for rescued children. Eventually, he wants tovisit Uganda, as does Cain.

Cain was stunned when he saw the movie, Machine GunPreacher, about an American crusader for exploited children in Sudan.

Thats a long way from where he grew up on the horse farmsoutside Memphis, Tenn. But because of the guidance he received growing up, he cares about whats happening halfway around the world

My granddad, and my dad, helped me learn to be a man,Cain said. They paved the way to help me become the person I am.

Fans can vote for the Clemente Award recipient of theirchoice at MLB.comClementeAward. The fan vote winner will receive one voteamong those cast by a selection panel. The recipient will be announced duringthe World Series.

Giants spring training Day 7: Rule change should help Bochy

Giants spring training Day 7: Rule change should help Bochy

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — On one of the many nights last season when his bullpen imploded, Bruce Bochy nearly put a catcher on the mound. Trevor Brown ended up playing an inning of third base on June 28 as the Giants gave up eight runs over the final two innings in a brutal loss to the A’s, and he said this week that he was told he was the next man up on the mound. 

That night was an odd one, as a tired bullpen was waiting for Sergio Romo to get activated off a rehab assignment and trying to get by without long reliever Chris Stratton, who had thrown 57 pitches out of the ‘pen the night before. The bench was also short because Joe Panik was about to be put on the concussion DL.

Bochy hopes he doesn’t have to deal with such a situation this season, and not just because the bullpen should be much improved. The disabled list lasts 10 days now, not 15, and Bochy is thrilled with the new rule.

“The DL thing, I really like it,” he said. “You get caught in that gray area so often.” 

Bochy met with league officials on Saturday to go over some of the rule changes. DL stints can now be made retroactive just three days, but it’s still a vast improvement overall. 

“With (position) players and pitchers it’s going to make it easier to DL guys,” Bochy said. “If you’re looking at (starting) pitchers, they could miss just one start.”

The Giants have often played a man or more short, trying to get by day-by-day to give a position player or starter time to heal. Around camp, this could be called the Angel Pagan Rule, as the former Giants outfielder often missed a week or so before officially going on the DL. At times, Bochy has been patient with players like Buster Posey and Hunter Pence, knowing that even if they missed a week, keeping them off the DL could still earn the Giants seven or eight games with a big bat back in the lineup. If a future diagnosis is that a player will miss a week, it’ll be much easier to swallow putting him on the 10-day DL than it was for the 15-day. Likewise, the Giants will take advantage of the change if a pitcher will have to miss a start. 

Bochy has said often that he would like every reliever to go on the DL during the season to freshen up. That’ll make more sense now, and it should keep the Giants from having to play as many games where the bullpen is gassed and a backup catcher is preparing to pitch. For guys like Stratton — a versatile pitcher on the 40-man roster — it should also lead to increased trips up to the big leagues to fill gaps. 

INJURY UPDATE: Pence (side muscle) took 25 swings during a live BP session in the cage and Bochy said he’s doing much better. That was about the only significant activity Sunday. Once again, the workout was rained out. Bochy said the Giants have enough time to get guys ready for the Cactus League opener on Feb. 24, but they’ll likely hold some big-name pitchers out of the early games. Brandon Crawford and Posey will get plenty of early starts to prepare for the WBC. 

PROSPECT WATCH: If the early games are turned over to prospects, Dan Slania will be an interesting guy to watch. Slania is listed at 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds, so he always had the look of an imposing reliever. But his greatest success last season came after a surprise move to the rotation. 

Slania, a 2013 fifth-round pick out of Notre Dame, got a call on his 24th birthday telling him to prepare to start because of an injury in Richmond’s rotation. He had not started a game since high school, but his four-pitch mix worked. He had a 5.32 ERA out of the bullpen but it dropped to 1.48 in 10 starts for the Flying Squirrels. In two Triple-A starts, he struck out 14 over 13 innings while allowing just eight hits and two runs. The Giants put him on their 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. 

“He had a great year last year,” Bochy said. “He’s in camp for a reason. He’s got great stuff and a good makeup.”

RULE CHANGE: One more thing that came out of that rules meeting: Managers who are out of challenges now have to wait until the eighth inning to ask an umpire to look at a play.

QUOTABLE: “We know he’s better off taking some days. We talked about it (with him). He agrees that it’ll help him.” Bochy on Pence’s workload. The right fielder is coming off two injury-marred seasons, and the Giants have no intention of even trying to get him back to his Iron Man days. 

Tomlinson still a fit as Giants put bench together

Tomlinson still a fit as Giants put bench together

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The “options game” can be a cruel one. It can also be one of the most important parts of spring training. 

If two players are relatively even at the end of camp but only one can be optioned to the minors, he’s usually the man left out. Giants officials have already made reference to this several times in discussing left field, where Jarrett Parker — who is out of options — would surely be claimed off waivers if the Giants try to sneak him back to the minors before Opening Day. Mac Williamson, on the other hand, can be shuttled back and forth. 

The same holds true for Kelby Tomlinson, and while it was easy during the first week of camp to see him as the odd man out, manager Bruce Bochy said that’s not the case. What do all the veteran infielders mean for the young one already in-house?

“It hasn’t affected anything for Kelby, really,” Bochy said. “It’s all about competition for spots on this team.”

Tomlinson played 54 games in 2015 and 52 a year ago, but the Giants put a clear emphasis this offseason on finding backup infielders. Jimmy Rollins, Jae-gyun Hwang, Orlando Calixte and Gordon Beckham were among those brought in before camp, and Aaron Hill arrived on the fourth day. Sure, Ehire Adrianza — who was seemingly perpetually out of options — is no longer around, but if the Giants carry just two backup infielders, one of them will almost certainly be Conor Gillaspie. 

Tomlinson isn’t bothered by the offseason of additions. He said he can take knowledge away from six weeks spent with guys he grew up watching.

“Rollins’ prime was right in my later high school years,” he said, smiling. “I’ve got a lot of guys to learn from and watch. It’s a little of both (a competition and learning experience). We’re all fighting for the same job, but we’re still on the same team and we’re all trying to learn from each other and help each other.”

Tomlinson is the incumbent, and the Giants certainly know all about his speed and ability to play all over the field (he continued to take fly balls this winter, just in case). They also now know that Tomlinson adds something that’s needed on any bench. Last season, he emerged as one of Bochy’s most reliable pinch-hitters. 

Tomlinson’s seven pinch-hits were tied for second on the team after Gillaspie’s 11. He was 7-for-17 in a pinch, adding three walks. Tomlinson’s simple swing and up-the-middle approach have proven perfect for important spots. He’s a .315 career hitter with runners in scoring position, a .373 hitter in situations baseball-reference deems “late and close,” and a .367 hitter in “high leverage” spots.

“I’m just trying to compete up there every at-bat, especially in that pinch-hitting role,” Tomlinson said. “It’s a grind, but that makes it fun when you give the team a quality at-bat. Even if it’s not a hit, you go up there and try to see five pitches and have a good at-bat.”

Tomlinson has given the Giants plenty of them over parts of two seasons. With Brandon Crawford headed for the World Baseball Classic, he is sure to see increased time this spring, and while the options game or non-roster list might catch up to him, the Giants haven’t forgotten what they already have. 

“He gives us versatility,” Bochy said, “So he’s in the mix, too.”