Contract talks don't unnerve Cain in spring debut

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Contract talks don't unnerve Cain in spring debut

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Youd think Matt Cain would be a nervouswreck this spring, fretting over the millions of dollars in the balance.Hes a free agent after this season. The Giants and hisagents are having daily discussions on an extension that could reach ninefigures.Instead, Cain has never looked so at ease. He's smiling and joking with teammates (and ribbing reporters) more than ever. He even wentspray-tanning last week.Yes, Cain. With an orange glow.The only unnerving part of his spring debut Monday night wasthat it came under the lights.

That was a little different, he said.Making pitches to escape a jam? Thats something Cain hasdone very well, and for a long time.He gave up a double to Rickie Weeks leading off the CactusLeague exhibition against the Milwaukee Brewers, but he settled down andretired the next three hitters on a strikeout and a pair of foul pops. In thesecond inning, Cain pitched around a walk and a single to finish his scorelessouting.Reaction?What did I say last year? Cain said, smiling. Itsprobably the same.It wasnt, actually. Cains elbow didnt feel so wonderfullast spring. He was shut down for three weeks and club officials fretted thattheir rock-solid rotation would spring plenty of leaks after being pushed allthe way to Nov. 1 the previous season.Instead, Cain pitched 221.2 innings to lead the staff andrank seventh in the NL. He hasnt ranked lower than seventh in the league ininnings pitched in any of the last four seasons.Hes one of the safest bets in anyones staff. No wonder theGiants are so keen on completing an extension before the equipment truck headsnorth in a few weeks.From what Ive been told, the two sides have reached greatercommon ground in recent weeks. Cain wants to stay and the Giants have thewherewithal to keep him. Those tend to be the most important factors. Itll bea surprise to many, both in the organization and out, if Cains deal doesntget done before the season starts.As for the rest, Cain is just settling in, as he alwaysdoes.Its always nice to face another team with the crowd going,he said. You remember what all that feels like.Unlike many pitchers, including Tim Lincecum, Cain doesntlimit himself to fastballs in his first outing.Ill start to throw my breaking ball early and mychangeups, too, he said. As soon as I get the feeling of throwing breakingballs in the spring, Ill keep on throwing them and try to carry that feelingon.Cain has a good feeling about the guys behind him,especially the speedy ones like Angel Pagan. The Giants figure to be much moreathletic in the outfield Melky Cabreras range is certainly better in leftfield and that will be a big help to Cain. Hes a rare fly ball pitcher whodoes a very good job of keeping the ball in the park.Its been a nice change to see those guys in the lineup andcome off the bench, Cain said. Just to see them running around, its veryenergetic. Its something we havent had the last few years. Its an asset now,to know those guys are at the top of the lineup, causing some havoc.As for the spray tan, don't worry. The kid from Memphis isn't going Hollywood. He was merely helping out a neighbor, who purchased one of the devices. A test subject, if you will.He's at ease, remember?

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.