Giants

EXTRAS: Cain mum on contract, Sanchez a confident catcher

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EXTRAS: Cain mum on contract, Sanchez a confident catcher

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Matt Cain allowed two runs on five hitsin 3.2 innings against the Cleveland Indians Wednesday, and most of thequestions he took in the clubhouse were about his outing.One bold reporter, however, asked Cain about ongoingcontract negotiations on a long-term extension.No updates, Cain said. Good try thought. Puntpunt onedown there real quick.Cains next contract remains a mystery, but the big right-hander is stillfocused on the task at hand: working on all his pitches in preparation for theregular season.I started throwing a couple more sliders today but we didnt get too far intothose, Cain said. Were still kind of on fastball command and working on thecurveball and the changeup, but the slider is going to start falling into playmore.RELATED: Posey's first spring hit an oppostie field home run
Giants manager Bruce Bochy liked what he saw from Cain, who struck out four andwalked one, even though he couldnt finish the fourth inning after throwing 71pitches, 48 for strikes.I thought Matt threw the ball well, Bochy said. He got his work in and hejust got to his pitch limit, which is why I went out there and got him. But hehad good stuff and he only gave up that one run. The other run was that wildpitch so I thought he did a real nice job.--The wild pitch Bochy referred to was one thrown by Mitch Lively, who came in tofinish the fourth in place of Cain. Livelys pitch slipped through HectorSanchezs legs, allowing one of Cains baserunners to score.Bochy said after the game that Sanchez normally makes that play and that hesbeen impressed so far this spring with his young catcher.Hes comfortable catching these guys and calling the game, Bochy said. Kidsgot a lot of confidence. He can hit and he can catch and throw. Its just amatter of getting some time up here to where he does feel like he belongs andhe carries himself like that. I thought he did a good job with Matt today.Cain also praised Sanchez after his start, saying that hes made strides sincehis call-up last season.I dont know if he was timid to call certain pitches hereand there but I think now hes got the confidence to take some chances onpitches in or throwing chageups behind in the count, Cain said. I think hesgot that confidence because he relays that confidence from the pitching staff,the way that all the guys arent afraid to throw any pitch really in anycount.Sanchez didnt just call a good game Wednesday, he also went1-for-2 to raise his spring average to .444.With Chris Stewart and Eli Whiteside, his competition forthe backup catcher job, both out of minor league options, Sanchez seems likethe odd man out for a roster spot. But if he keeps hitting, he will make thedecision hard on Bochy and general manager Brian Sabean.

--Another player that looks to cause headaches for Bochy andSabean is Gregor Blanco, who continued his hot spring by going 1-for-3 with awalk and a run scored out of the leadoff spot Wednesday.RELATED: Vogelsong tests back with 45-pitch bullpen session
Blanco is now batting an even .500 in the Cactus League and continues to showcasehis amazing speed.In the first inning, Blanco went from first to third on a ball that never leftthe infield. Bochy took notice.He goes first to third on a dribbler because he has theability to make things happen, Bochy said. He knows how to play the game,too. Hes a smart player.Bochy also praised Sabean for bringing in Blanco as a non-roster invitee.Great signing, he said. Were excited to have him. Hes aguy thats going to go down to the wire, we know, but hes certainly intriguingthe way hes been playing.--Brian Wilson made his second appearance of the spring and worked a perfectfifth inning. Motion feels good, Wilson said. Another pain-freeouting.

After hitting 93-94 MPH in his first outing on Sunday, Wilson hit 95-96 againstthe Indians. Wilson said he isnt even trying to ramp up his velocityjust yet.I think I should stay low 90s as of right now if I can andjust progressively work towards Opening Day to max out then and try and sustainthat for the rest of the season, he said.Bochy said that Wilson was throwing his breaking ball andhis cutter and that hes ready.Wilsons next test will come on March 17, St. Patricks Day.

Johnny Cueto slowed Hunter Pence down, but the Rockies couldn't

Johnny Cueto slowed Hunter Pence down, but the Rockies couldn't

SAN FRANCISCO — Hunter Pence walked into the dugout 30 minutes before Tuesday’s game, slid his bat into the rack, and smiled. 

“I’m hitting leadoff tonight,” he said, noting that it’s a spot for speedsters. 

On this night, it was a spot that was slowed down. Pence kept the bat steady on a couple of big swings that led the Giants to a 4-3 win. He accompanied that with a home run jog that was one of the comedic highlights in a season sorely lacking them. 

Pence’s fifth-inning blast to dead center was the go-ahead shot at the time, and Pence made his usual quick trip around first and second. When he approached third, he was confronted by a strange sight. Johnny Cueto, who had singled, turned and held his hand up. The two hit the bag a few feet apart, and Cueto practically walked home. He took 13 seconds to go the final 90 feet, and Pence — once nicknamed Full Throttle by his manager — had no choice but to follow in a power-walk of his own. 

“I was like, ‘I’m not the starting pitcher.’ They expend a lot of energy — every pitch is like a sprint,” Pence said. “You’ve got to take it easy if they tell you to take it easy.”

Pence has 218 career homers. He said this was the slowest jog of his career, and that’s exactly what Cueto wanted. 

“Obviously I was very happy when he hit the home run, and I just kept telling him to go ahead and slow down and enjoy the homer, because you're always running so fast,” Cueto said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. 

The home run power-walk was a funny moment, but it was also instructive. Pence brings the same energy and enjoyable attitude every day. In Cueto, his neighbor in the clubhouse, he has found a similar player. He said he’s hopeful that Cueto returns next season — as is expected — and noted that it’s a positive trait to have fun in this kind of season. 

“That’s imperative and it’s extremely important to keep that passion,” Pence said. “It’s not just about the standings. We love competing.”

Cueto showed his own fire by getting a lead into the seventh despite a soaring early pitch count. When Hunter Strickland coughed it up in the eighth, the Giants bounced right back. Pence ended the night with a sacrifice fly to center with the bases loaded. That capped a big night for him, one that left him smiling from start to finish. 

“It’s always a good time when you’re hitting a homer,” he said. 

Perhaps that’s why Cueto forced him to soak it all in.

Giants lineup: Two righties back in for opener against Rockies

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USATSI

Giants lineup: Two righties back in for opener against Rockies

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Rockies-Giants coverage begins at 6pm with Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming right here.

After dealing with back spasms over the weekend, Hunter Pence is back in the lineup Tuesday against the Rockies.

Colorado Rockies:
1. Charlie Blackmon (L) CF
2. DJ LeMahieu (R) 2B
3. Carlos Gonzalez (L) RF
4. Nolan Arenado (R) 3B
5. Gerardo Parra (L) LF
6. Trevor Story (R) SS
7. Ian Desmond (R) 1B
8. Jonathan Lucroy (R) C
9. German Marquez (R) P

San Francisco Giants:
1. Hunter Pence (R) RF
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Denard Span (L) CF
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Jarrett Parker (L) LF
7. Pablo Sandoval (S) 1B
8. Ryder Jones (L) 3B
9. Johnny Cueto (R) RHP