EXTRA BAGGS: Cain not satisfied with All-Star season yet, etc.


EXTRA BAGGS: Cain not satisfied with All-Star season yet, etc.


LOS ANGELES How to describe a season that includes anAll-Star Game start, a career-best 2.79 ERA and 193 strikeouts, a five-yearextension worth a guaranteed 112.5 million and lest anyone forget, the firstperfect game in the Giants 129-year existence?

Its a good overall season, but its not something I wantto be sitting on, Matt Cain said Monday night. I want a good bit of starts inthe postseason.

Cain will set the tone for what the Giants hope will beanother deep and memorable run. Hell take the mound for the NL West championsin Game 1 of an NL Division Series, now assuredly to take place Saturday atAT&T Park.

Cain will face either the Washington Nationals or CincinnatiReds; he was 0-2 with a 5.54 ERA in two starts against the Reds, although hepitched into the seventh inning both times. Cain also lost in his lone startagainst the Nationals this season, giving up three runs in 6 23 innings of aroad start July 5.

Hes inheriting a role that belonged to Tim Lincecum in allthree playoff rounds two seasons ago.

Im excited about it, said Cain, who didnt allow anearned run over three playoff starts in 2010. I want to start my routinetomorrow and get ready for Saturdays game. Not add anything else to it. Justfind out whoever were going to face and start thinking about them.

Cain did not skip ahead in his preparation for his finalregular-season start on Monday. He always takes great pride in beating theDodgers, who denied him a victory in his first 14 career starts against them.He was visibly irritated after giving up a two-run home run to Andre Ethier ona first-pitch changeup in the fourth inning.

I felt good and I made one really bad pitch, a hangingchangeup to Ethier, Cain said. Ive got to remember how that felt wrong andnot repeat that again in my next start.

Cain was on a 75-pitch limit. He exited trailing 2-1 afterfive innings and 68 pitches.

That was enough work for him, Bochy said.

The Giants rallied to tie on Marco Scutaros single in theeighth, keeping Cain from a tough loss and ensuring he would finish the seasonwith a 16-5 record. Hes also unbeaten in his last nine outings, and might bethe only Giants starting pitcher who enters the playoffs with a true head ofsteam.

Cain entered the season with a 69-73 record despite a solidsix-year career. Hes no longer a sub-.500 pitcher.

It was good, really good, he said, of his season as awhole. I felt I was consistent. I got in a good routine and stayed with it.Buster (Posey) and I got in a really good rhythm and Hector (Sanchez), when hecaught me, he did a good job too.

Cain wouldve liked to add one more victory to knock out theDodgers. Hell have to settle for a glance at the standings, and a reminderthat the Giants once trailed by 7 games in the NL West.

We put ourselves in a bad spot at the beginning of theseason, and they started out hot, Cain said. But we felt if we playedconsistent ball, we had a shot at chasing those guys down and thats how itworked out.

The Giants werent 100 percent assured the No. 3 seed in theplayoff picture until Atlanta lost to the Pirates on Monday.

Yes, Atlanta. Its a bit convoluted, but entering Monday,there was a scenario in which the Braves, Nationals, Reds and Giants all couldhave finished with identical 96-66 records. It wouldve required the Braves andGiants sweeping their series and the Nats and Reds both getting swept intheirs.

In that scenario, the Braves and Nats wouldve had to play aone-game playoff for the NL East title, with the loser going to the wild cardgame. If the Braves had won that game, the Reds wouldve been the top seed andthe Giants, because they won their season series with Atlanta, wouldve beenthe second seed.

Once Atlanta lost, that scenario disappeared. The Nationals areyour NL East champions.

And therefore the Giants are guaranteed to play host toGame 1 on Saturday and Game 2 on Sunday.

They will get the No. 2 seed, of course and thats still upin the air. The Reds and Nationals have identical records with two to play. (The Nats ostensibly hold a one-game edge, since they beatthe Reds in their season series and hold the tiebreaker.)

The only way wellget clarity on Tuesday is if the Nats win and the Reds lose. Then itll beCincinnati in the first round for sure. Any other result on Tuesday, and wellhave to wait until the 162nd game is in the books on Wednesday toknow for certain.

This becomes a lot more fun, by the way, when youre a beat reporter whohas to book flights.

A lot of folks are asking about game times for this weekend, and for good reason. You've got Stanford playing a home game against Arizona at noon on Saturday and Cal hosting UCLA at 7 p.m. The 49ers have a home game against Buffalo at 1:25 p.m. on Sunday. And who knows where the A's will fit into that wild playoff picture in the AL, which they're definitely in now.

Then you've got Fleet Week with the perennially popular Blue Angels, the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park and I'm sure there's a quilting expo somewhere, too. At least Apple already unveiled the iPhone 5.

I'll let you know game times as soon as I get them. Whenever they schedule the first pitch, make sure to leave early, pack plenty of patience and carpool or take public transportation if you can.

Giants spring training Day 6: Bochy looks for improvement on bases

Giants spring training Day 6: Bochy looks for improvement on bases

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Giants always put together a long list of potential minor league free agents as the offseason approaches and they tend to go hard after two or three players from that group. One of the guys who got the hard sell over the winter was speedy outfielder Wynton Bernard, and the Giants were attractive for reasons beyond the departures of Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco.

“I thought it was a good opportunity, and it also was a good fit for me because I’m from California,” Bernard said. 

Bernard is technically from Padres territory, but that gives him a connection to one of the men he’s hoping to impress. When Bernard was playing for Rancho Bernardo High, he often went up against a Poway High team that included a young Brett Bochy. Bruce never saw Bernard play because his job kept him away from most of Brett’s games, but he should see plenty of the 26-year-old this spring as the Giants look for a needed speed dimension. 

A big part of the staff overhaul was about making sure the Giants fare better on the bases. Roberto Kelly and Billy Hayes are out and Phil Nevin and Jose Alguacil are in. The Giants stole 79 bases last season, ranking eighth in the National League, and it’s not like they made up for the lack of small-ball by hitting the ball out of the park. Advanced metrics — tracked externally and also by the Giants — showed an inability to make an impact on the bases. According to BsR, an all-encompassing metric tracked by FanGraphs, the Giants were below average, ranking 17th in the majors. 

“We just want to be smarter baserunners,” Bochy said. “You always want to be aggressive. Everyone has the same philosophy — run hard — but it’s the old adage ‘strong to compete, smart to win.’”

A full season of Eduardo Nuñez will help, as would 162 games of Hunter Pence — who tends to make things happen on his own — and Joe Panik, one of the team’s smartest runners. Jimmy Rollins could provide speed off the bench, and Bernard hopes to make himself a viable option in the outfield. He stole 23 bags in 28 attempts last season for the Tigers’ Double-A and Triple-A teams and he stole 88 total bases the two seasons before 2016. 

The Giants know the kind of potential Bernard has, so early in the offseason he got a call telling him to hook up with fellow San Diego resident Vince Coleman, a legendary baserunner who would be joining the staff. The two worked out often in advance of spring training. 

“The Giants said he was in the area and I called him 20 minutes later,” Bernard said. “I feel like I can add a different dynamic with my speed.”

Bernard can play all three outfield spots and he sports a .360 on-base percentage in the minors. He’s likely ticketed for Triple-A for now, but a player with the same profile showed up in camp in 2012, and it wasn’t long before Gregor Blanco had locked up a roster spot. 

Whether Bernard is part of the mix, or it’s a Gorkys Hernandez or Nuñez or Kelby Tomlinson, Bochy knows he needs a little more athleticism and baserunning savvy in a division where the games are often won by one run. 

“We probably made more mistakes than we should have last year,” he said. “The numbers show it.”

CUETO UPDATE: The co-ace remains in the Dominican Republic, where he is tending to his father. The Giants don’t have a timetable for Cueto’s arrival, but he didn’t miss anything Saturday. The workout was banged because of rain. 

Cueto is at a hotel a few minutes from the club’s Santo Domingo facility and he has been working out there. The hope is that Cueto’s father soon gets well enough to travel to Arizona, where Cueto can continue to take care of him. 

NEW FACE: Slade Heathcott, a former Yankee, signed a minor league deal with the Giants on Friday. He will be in minor league camp this spring, not big league camp. The Giants liked his athleticism. 

QUOTABLE: “You can always look back, study it, learn from it … the second half, I think for everybody, you learn from it. Did we drop our guard? Hopefully it wasn’t complacency, which lets you think you have a bigger margin for error. Hopefully you learn from it.” — Bochy, when asked about the lesson learned last season. 

Report: Giants sign former Yankees top OF prospect Slade Heathcott

Report: Giants sign former Yankees top OF prospect Slade Heathcott

The Giants reportedly added to their outfield competition by signing former Yankees top prospect and 2009 first-round draft pick, outfielder Slade Heathcott. 

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports was first to report the news

Heathcott, 26, has only appeared in 17 MLB games, all in the 2015 season for the Yankees. In his short promotion, the lefty batted .400 (10-for-25) with two home runs and two doubles. 

Through multiple stints in the minors, Heathcott has slashed .266/.343/.390 with 26 home runs for his career. 

San Francisco reportedly signed Heathcott to a minor league deal with a big league invite for spring training.