Giants

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?

Given another look at fastball, Williamson gets revenge against Kershaw

Given another look at fastball, Williamson gets revenge against Kershaw

LOS ANGELES — Mac Williamson was sent up to pinch-hit when the Giants faced Clayton Kershaw earlier this month, and on a two-strike count, he watched as Kershaw shook off five different signs as he stood on the mound. Kershaw then froze Williamson with a fastball. It was a good lesson for Williamson, a player still trying to find his footing at the big league level.

“He’s a guy you can’t really guess with,” Williamson said. 

The outfielder admits he tends to overthink things. “I’m a perfectionist,” he said Sunday. But given a start against Kershaw, Williamson let his talent — and a little luck — take over. Williamson’s first hit off Kershaw was a bleeder that resulted in an infield hit. His second bounced through the middle of the infield for a single. The third one was the highlight of the day for the Giants. 

Kershaw had a shutout going when he tried to sneak a first-pitch fastball past Williamson in the eighth. He blasted it to dead center. It was the only run for the Giants in a 3-1 loss to the Dodgers. 

“It’s good to see him get those swings off,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “That homer was to the big part of the park. It shows how strong he is.”

The Giants have always known Williamson has the strength and raw talent. He hasn’t stuck for a number of reasons, including injuries and that aforementioned tendency sometimes to overthink at the plate. It probably hasn’t helped, either, that the Giants tend to sit him for days at a time and then play him against the Kershaws and Zack Greinkes and Rich Hills of the world. 

Williamson took advantage of the tough assignment on Sunday, joining a small group of Giants who have three hits in a game off Kershaw. 

“Hunter was ahead of me,” he said, smiling. “He beat me to it.”

Pence also had three hits, giving the Giants six from the corners against the best pitcher in the game. It wasn’t enough, but for Williamson, it was something to build off as the offseason approaches. He said it’s a winter he doesn’t plan to take lightly. Williamson’s agents are working to line up a Winter Ball job in the Dominican Republic.

Giants lineup: Three lefties out against Kershaw

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Giants lineup: Three lefties out against Kershaw

With Clayton Kershaw on the mound for the Dodgers Sunday, Bruce Bochy is resting three left-handed bats...

San Francisco Giants:
1. Gorkys Hernandez (R) CF
2. Kelby Tomlinson (R) 2B
3. Buster Posey (R) 1B
4. Hunter Pence (R) RF
5. Nick Hundley (R) C
6. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
7. Pablo Sandoval (S) 3B
8. Mac Williamson (R) LF
9. Chris Stratton (R) RHP

Los Angeles Dodgers:
1. Chris Taylor (R) CF
2. Corey Seager (L) SS
3. Cody Bellinger (L) 1B
4. Curtis Granderson (L) RF
5. Logan Forsythe (R) 3B
6. Chase Utley (L) 2B
7. Yasmani Grandal (S) C
8. Joc Pederson (L) LF
9. Clayton Kershaw (L) LHP