EXTRA BAGGS: Cain draws familiar, friendly foe on Monday


EXTRA BAGGS: Cain draws familiar, friendly foe on Monday

SEATTLE Matt Cain didnt change anything in his routineafter his 125-pitch perfect game on Wednesday.

He still threw his normal bullpen and did his normal workbetween starts.

With a littleextra media attention, of course. Cain will read the top ten list on the LettermanShow. Itll be taped on Monday before he takes the mound at Anaheim.

Hey, if the guy can swing a golf club and throw a perfectgame three hours later, he can stand at wooden attention in front of a cameraand read off a teleprompter on the day he pitches.

Itll be an event when Cain takes the mound again, and itsonly fitting that he faces a friend and former minor league teammate.

Cains face lit up when I mentioned that hell oppose formerGiant Jerome Williams. At one time, Williams and Jesse Foppert were supposed tobe the Giants aces of the future. It didnt happen, but Cain finally broughtthe franchise out of the pitching doldrums. Boy, did he ever.

As you might recall, Williams was traded to the Cubs in May,2005, with David Aardsma for LaTroy Hawkins. Three months later, Cain made hismajor league debut. But Cain and Williams did play together in the minors for atime.

Cain told me he admires Williams for the way he perseveredthrough independent ball to make his way back to the big leagues. Anyone whosheard his story knows the personal tumult hes been through. I know I cant seea puka shell necklace without thinking of him.

Cain and Williams are linked in one other respect.

I got my first hit off him, Cain said, smiling.

Indeed he did. It was a seventh-inning double and itcame during Cains third big league start Sept. 9, 2005, at China Basin. Cain threwhis first career complete game that day -- Dan Ortmeiers single scored the tiebreakingrun -- to win 2-1 and pick up his second major league victory.

I dug up my game story from that day. This is what Williamshad to say:

I dont like that he got a hit off me, Williams said witha laugh. I told him when I was at Fresno, Just keep pitching like yourepitching and youll be successful for a long time.

Cain listened. And Williams was right.

One more crystal-ball comment from that night in 2005, courtesy of Cubs(and former Giants) manager Dusty Baker:

Outstanding ball game. Outstanding fastball. He located iton the outside when he needed to. We heard he had good stuff and they werentlying. Thats a special young man right there.

Tim Lincecum is a special case, too. But he and Cain aregoing in vastly different directions.

If youre looking for silver linings after Saturday nightsloss to the Mariners, consider this: Lincecum faced 22 batters. He hadthree-ball counts on just three of them.

Yes, the Mariners are a bad offensive team. And Lincecum hasa 6.19 ERA. No amount of bleeders or bad luck can explain that away.
BAGGARLY: Time to skip Lincecum's start?

Still, youd rather have Lincecum embracing positives andworking constructively to make changes instead of hitting the panic button. Byall accounts, hes staying upbeat.

The DH role didnt suite Pablo Sandoval well Saturday night.Even by his free-swinging standards, he was chasing pitches with all the ferocity of WalterWhite swatting at flies in his laboratory.

It stands to reason that Sandoval could be more overanxiouswhen hes not in the flow of the game as the third baseman. I wonder if wellsee him DH again. Im betting no.

Its true, Joaquin Arias couldnt make a backhand play on akey ball in the sixth inning. Maybe Sandoval is able to pick it and beat therunner to third base. Well never know.

The consensus I get from scouts is that Arias has playedbetter defense at third base than Sandoval did in April. Its not that Sandovalis an inferior defender. Its just that he has to prove himself to managementagain. Hes always been a player who responds to a challenge. The Giants arecounting on him to respond this time, and I think he will.

Left-hander Dan Runzler (strained lat) pitched a scorelessinning Saturday while making his third rehab appearance for Single-A San Josein a 3-2 victory over Modesto.

The Giants finished the first half with a 38-32 record andin second place in the Cal Leagues North Division. Unbelievably, this is thefirst time since 2004 that San Jose did not win the first-half title.

Cubs outfielder vows he didn't give Trump the middle finger at White House

Cubs outfielder vows he didn't give Trump the middle finger at White House

WASHINGTON – Albert Almora Jr. didn’t use Wednesday’s Oval Office photo op as a subtle form of political protest, but it did sort of look like the Cubs outfielder gave President Donald Trump the middle finger, at least from that angle in an image that went viral on Twitter.    

“There was two fingers! Look closely, there was two fingers!” a veteran player yelled across the room as reporters gathered around Almora’s locker inside the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Park. 

“Guys were giving me a hard time about it,” Almora said, “but I pointed out the second finger. We’re all good.”

In another White House visit that didn’t look nearly as unofficial or informal as the Cubs said it would be, one snapshot became Almora with part of his left hand in his pocket. Almora stood near Kris Bryant – who held a 45 Wrigley Field scoreboard panel – and Trump at his desk with the World Series trophy.

“Obviously, it’s unfortunate,” Almora said with a laugh. “I’m getting ready to take a picture and I’m posing there. But you guys know that I would never do that to the president of the United States. 

“I respect everybody. It is what it is. We laugh about it now, but there’s definitely two fingers out there.”


Giants notes: Melancon gets injection; Kontos gets an at-bat

Giants notes: Melancon gets injection; Kontos gets an at-bat

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants were annoyed by Monday’s “rubbing teammates the wrong way” report for a number of reasons, but near the top of the list was the fact that the target, Mark Melancon, has been pitching hurt to try and help a last-place team. That’s no longer the case. 

Melancon went on the DL on Wednesday morning and later had a PRP (platelet rich plasma) injection in his right arm to try and ease some of the discomfort in his pronator. He is expected to be out the rest of the first half. Melancon would be eligible to return with two games left until the break, but there’s no point in rushing him. He missed 12 games the first time this came up and he now has more than two weeks to rest before the second half kicks off. 

In the meantime, Sam Dyson is the closer, but he was unavailable Wednesday because of a heavy workload. So Bruce Bochy got creative to close out a 5-3 win over the Rockies. George Kontos came on for a sharp Ty Blach in the seventh and carried the lead to the eighth. Steven Okert got through the 26th out and Hunter Strickland came in to get Ian Desmond to fly out for his first save of the year. 

Because Bochy wanted Kontos to face Pat Valaika in the eighth, he got an at-bat 15 hours after Cory Gearrin got to take his hacks. It at first looked like Kontos had “don’t swing” orders, but he fouled a ball off. 

“The second fastball I got, if it was near the plate, I was going to swing,” he said. 

Kontos said he doesn’t have bragging rights over Gearrin because he fouled a ball off, noting that Gearrin is 1 for 2 in his career and he is 0 for 8. It turns out that they used the same bat, too. Yes, there is a Cory Gearrin model.

“It’s just been hanging out since last year,” Gearrin said, looking down at his equipment bag. “Just in case.”

--- Dan Slania woke up a 4:30, drove to Philadelphia, and boarded a flight that was went down through Nashville to fuel up. He arrived in San Francisco in time for the second inning. And then he watched, met with old teammates, showered … and prepared to fly all the way back to Pennsylvania. 

“I’m going to pass out as soon as I get on the plane,” Slania said. 

He wasn’t complaining at all. The Giants needed a potential innings-eater with Melancon on the DL, and if Slania is sent back down before Friday’s game, he’ll at least be back near Double-A Richmond and the flight back will have been taken on a chartered jet with a bunch of former teammates. Plus he gets a couple of service days. 

“I can tell you it’s well worth it,” Bochy said. 

--- The main story today is about Jae-gyun Hwang, who brought some more life to a team that got its first sweep of the year. The standings are what they are, but the Giants are playing much better, and some players started talking Wednesday about how they’re looking forward to being a spoiler for teams like the Rockies and Diamondbacks. 

More than anything, the players are just happy that they got to listen to the victory soundtrack again and walk out of this park with smiles. 

“We did a really good job of coming into this series and decided what the intent should be,” Nick Hundley said. “We weren’t going to worry about what’s been going on. You control what you can control. It’s nice when the results match up.”

There was a players-only meeting on Monday and Hundley said “everybody got on the same page again.”

Now the tricky part: Keeping it going on the road. 

--- Nolan Arenado is a freak and the Giants should give him a blank check, a ton of Facebook stock, and the rights to the Salesforce building when he’s a free agent in two and a half seasons. 

--- Ryder Jones is hitless in 16 at-bats but he was keeping his head up. He was an inch or two from a double down the line Wednesday and the Giants feel he’s having good at-bats. More than anything, he's not taking those results into the field and he talked about that at length when we sat down for a podcast the other day. If you subscribe on iTunes here, you’ll have it in the morning.