Giants CEO Baer says club isn't low-balling Cain

717134.jpg

Giants CEO Baer says club isn't low-balling Cain

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants CEO Larry Baer said the team remains in active negotiations with representatives for Matt Cain and sought to repair what he described as a mischaracterization that the club is making a lowball offer to their prized right-hander."We're both working very hard," said Baer on Thursday, responding to fan questions on a streaming web chat on sfgiants.com. "Our desire is for him toremain a Giant. Theres nothing weve seen from him that shows his desire isnot to be. We just keep plugging along."Theres been a lot ofmischaracterizations with hard-and-fast deadline or were lowballing him. Thoseare uneducated. I cant promise it will or wont happen thats going toultimately be the process of negotiation and Matts decision."The Giants and Cain have a soft deadline to conclude negotiations by the April 6 season opener, but that is more of a preference than a hard action date. Cain has said he is willing to listen to "anything of fair value." According to sources familiar with the talks, the two sides have been substantially far apart on determining that value.Baer said he didn't want to put a percentage on the chances of locking up Cain, 27, who would be a free agent after this season."Wed like to keep the homegrown players that areperforming and Matt Cain is at the top of the list," Baer said. "Weve been earnest in negotiationswith Matts representatives. We continue to be. Were working hard. Theyreworking hard."Last month, Giants GM Brian Sabean said the club has the wherewithal to sign both Cain and Tim Lincecum to long-term contracts. Lincecum agreed to a two-year, 40.5 million deal over the winter that will take him through the remainder of his arbitration eligibility but will not buy out any of his free-agent years. Cain has said the Lincecum negotiations would have an impact on his decision to commit long-term, citing the importance of pitching in a deep and talented rotation.The fans participating in the chat with Baer via Twitter weren't always civil and many used blue language to express their frustration that a deal with Cain hadn't been reached already. Fears might be spiking after the Los Angeles Dodgers were sold Tuesday for a record 2.15 billion, and new owner Magic Johnson pledged to be aggressive in courting top free-agent talent.Baer said he didn't expect the Dodgers sale would have a major impact on the free-agent market next winter. But taking Cain off that market certainly remains a top priority. He said the Giants are more interested in retaining their top players like Cain rather than going shopping for other big-name free agents such as Albert Pujols."Fans would like certain free agents like Albert Pujols ... but the first priority is homegrown playersthat we still think have a lot of productivity left," Baer said. "(But) we cant control the overall economics of player and agent. Its got to be something that allows us to field a team that will win.Industry sources believe Cain would fetch at least a six-year contract on the open-market, with an average annual value exceeding 20 million. The Giants are seeking a below-market contract, given the additional risk they would assume if Cain does not remain healthy this season.That hasn't been a problem throughout Cain's career. In each of the past four seasons, the rock-steady All-Star has ranked among the top seven NL pitchers in innings. Despite a minor scare last spring that turned up loose bodies in his elbow, Cain went on to pitch 221.2 innings and rank eighth in the NL with a 2.88 ERA.

Giants spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

Giants spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Ty Blach is the young one in the race to be the fifth starter, but on Sunday he sounded like a veteran. Asked if he has gotten a hint one way or the other about his opening day role, Blach smiled.

“I’m just taking it day-by-day and trying to get better,” Blach said. “I’m enjoying the process and having fun.”

Smooth. 

Those days are adding up to a nice spring for Blach, the left-hander trying to unseat Matt Cain. While Bruce Bochy didn’t shed any additional light on the current lean, team officials hinted Sunday that this is not as open-and-shut as it seems. Matt Cain, who will start Tuesday, looked like a lock to be the fifth starter a week ago, but the Giants are considering all options because they have an off day during the first week and two more shortly thereafter. 

“We’ve had discussions every day,” Bochy said. “We’ve got some tough calls.”

The Giants are expected to announce their official rotation when they return home for the Bay Bridge Series. Whether he’s starting, long-relieving, or pitching in a completely new role, Blach has certainly done all he can to make sure he’s in the big leagues on April 2. He gave up two runs over six innings Sunday, walking one and striking out one while giving up seven hits. Blach has allowed 10 runs in 20 1/3 innings this spring, but four of those came when he was ambushed coming out of the bullpen one day.

“Wherever I’ll be, I know I’ll be in a good spot,” Blach said. “I’m just looking forward to getting the season rolling.

After pitching out of the bullpen most of the spring, Blach got his pitch count up to 85 on Sunday. 

“We’ve gotten him stretched out,” Bochy said. “That’s a solid, solid job. We’ve got guys stretched out where you want them. We’ve got some flexibility. We’ll see as we get close here which way we’ll go.”

POSITION BATTLES: The Giants will carry a backup for Denard Span, and for about a month it looked like Gorkys Hernandez would be that guy. But Hernandez has slumped so badly this spring that he went over the minor league facility Sunday to get a ton of extra at-bats, and Justin Ruggiano has emerged, reaching base in nine of his last 16 plate appearances. The plan a few days back was for Ruggiano to go to Sacramento and get 50 or so at-bats to see where he’s at, but this is another race that could change in the coming week. 

Cory Gearrin has done his part to hold off any charging relievers, throwing two sharp innings while going back-to-back for the first time this spring. 

FAMILIAR FACES: A rough day for a couple of longtime Giants. Ehire Adrianza and Gregor Blanco both have oblique injuries, hurting their odds of breaking with the Twins and Diamondbacks, respectively. Elsewhere, David Hernandez showed that he made a smart decision asking for his release. He was signed by the Braves. 

AROUND CAMP: Hunter Pence really does do all he can to make every single teammate feel welcome in the clubhouse. He spent some time with young right-hander Roberto Gomez on Sunday morning, learning a few Spanish phrases. When the players went out to warm up, Pence threw with Jae-Gyun Hwang. These are small gestures, but for the new guys, they matter. 

BARRY’S BACK: We all knew Barry Bonds would step into the cage at some point, and on a quiet Sunday morning, there he was. Bonds, 52, took about five or six easy hacks before crushing one out to deep right. He’s still got it. The other day, reporters asked Bonds if he could suit up in the WBC if asked. He said he can absolutely still hit, but he would need to DH and he would need a day or two off before games. Being a big league hitter is not easy, even if he always made it look that way.

 

Bonds dusts off swing, cracks home run during BP in Giants' camp

Bonds dusts off swing, cracks home run during BP in Giants' camp

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants knew Barry Bonds would step back into the box at some point. It happened Sunday, with Bonds taking a few cracks at BP pitches from Gary Davenport.

Bonds warmed up with a couple of lighter swings and then blasted a homer to deep right. That was enough, as the 52-year-old walked away with a big smile on his face. 

Bonds is in camp as a special instructor, and he still picks his spots to show off his legendary swing. When he was the Marlins' hitting coach last season, he beat slugger Giancarlo Stanton in an impromptu home run derby.