Cain really torn' over his future

704178.jpg

Cain really torn' over his future

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Amid a report that contractnegotiations have stalled between the Giants and Matt Cain, the right-hander acknowledgedthat he is really torn about whether to commit long-term or test the marketas a free agent after the season.

Asked whether he was optimistic or pessimistic that anextension could be reached before the April 6 season opener, Cain pondered thequestion for a time.

I guess I dont know, Cain told CSNBayArea.com. Imhesitant to answer that question because Im thinking about the times Ive hadplaying with these guys, growing up in this organization. Im definitely goingto enjoy this season to the fullest with whatever happens. But you also thinkabout going to free agency, and you might not have that chance again. So youreally are torn between the two sides. Itd be hard to say its one way or theother.

For now, the choice is not difficult. Although Cain declined todiscuss specific terms, he made it clear the Giants havent offered a contractin line with his perceived market value. Cain made one more thing clear: hisagents have a firm idea of what that value may be.

We feel like we do, he said. Yes, we do.

Industry sources estimated Cain would fetch more than 100million on the open market, perhaps exceeding a six-year, 120 milliondeal.

Fox Sports reported Wednesday night that the chances of theGiants re-signing Cain this spring were rapidly diminishing. A sourcedescribed that characterization as overly dramatic, but confirmed the two sidesremain far apart in talks. Although no further talks were scheduled, both sidesremain open to continuing the dialogue which by all accounts, has not beencontentious.

RELATED: Contract talks stall between Cain, Giants

Giants GM Brian Sabean has said the organization has thefinancial wherewithal to sign Cain to an extension and also commit long term toTim Lincecum, who will be a free agent after his two-year, 40.5 millioncontract expires following the 2013 season.

But with the Giants rotation becoming ultra-expensive, theteam would assume a major risk by signing Cain long term with a year remainingon his deal. They could mitigate some of that risk by waiting until theexclusive negotiating period in October to extend him.

Waiting runs its own risks, though.

Baseball sources expect the Giants archrival, the LosAngeles Dodgers, to be major free-agent spenders next winter once a newownership group drops more than 1 billion to purchase the franchise. There would be nothing more painful to Giants fans thanseeing Cain, one of their most loyal favorites, in Dodger blue. Such a signingcould tilt the balance of power in the NL West, too.

REWIND: EXTRAS -- Cain mum on contract

Cain said the negotiations, even this deep into the spring,havent weighed on his mind. His teammates agreed.

I think he has a really great ability to let things go,left-hander Barry Zito said. Hes always been able to do that. Hes a verymature pitcher and a mature guy."

Although many observers expected a swift resolution to Cain's contract situation, Zito said he wasn't surprised that it hasn't turned out that way.

Its more complicated than, The Giants want Cain and Cainwants to stay,'" Zito said. "This is a game and we try to keep it that way in most aspects.But the fact is, its a business. Youve got to be as tedious about gettingbusiness handled as you are about stuff on the field. Thats just a fact.

Cain would start the Giants home opener April 13 if theclub uses four starting pitchers in the first turn through the rotation. Thatsa possibility because they have a day off on their season-opening road trip,which could allow Ryan Vogelsong more time to build arm strength after missingthree weeks because of a lower back strain.

Giants spring training day 8: Melancon, Hundley go way back

Giants spring training day 8: Melancon, Hundley go way back

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A couple of days before he signed a four-year deal, Mark Melancon fired off a midnight text to Nick Hundley. 

“Call me,” Melancon wrote.

When Hundley called, he found out his college teammate had chosen the Giants, ending a free agency process the two spoke about often. Two months later, it was Hundley’s turn to reach out. 

“I asked him if he wanted to play together again,” Hundley said. “He said, ‘You better not be messing with me.’”

The Giants signed just two free agents who are guaranteed of being on the opening day roster. In an odd twist, the new closer and new backup catcher have known each other for over a decade. Hundley was a second-round pick in 2005 out of the University of Arizona. A year later, his college teammate Melancon was a ninth-round pick. The two have stayed close throughout the pro ball journey. They were groomsmen in each other’s weddings and their wives and children hang out together. 

“We always talked about playing together,” Hundley said, adding that the odds were long in a 30-team sport.

The friends have crossed off a good chunk of them. Melancon has played for the Yankees, Astros, Red Sox, Pirates and Nationals. Hundley has played for the Padres, Orioles and Rockies. Finally, the two have hooked on to the same team, and the Giants are excited to have them both. Hundley will be the veteran catcher the team has missed in recent years, and the Giants are hopeful that he’s a pinch-hit threat, too. Melancon, of course, was brought in to fix the glaring problem in the ninth. Hundley is confident he’ll do it.

“I’ve caught him since 2005,” he said smiling, “And he’s always been nasty.”

NEW FACE: It’s hard to take much away from drills, but Orlando Calixte certainly impressed. As the Giants worked out on the field for the first time in three days, I asked GM Bobby Evans what Calixte showed the team’s scouts. “Just his athleticism, his tools, they stand out,” Evans said. They certainly do. Calixte is smooth out there, and he showed quickness at short that might differentiate him from the pack of infield options. 

Calixte has also played second, third and the outfield in the minors, and while the Giants intend on keeping five outfielders, that versatility could come into play. The Giants plucked Calixte from Kansas City’s system and put him on the 40-man roster when it became apparent that other offers were out there. They thought he could provide more versatility than Ehire Adrianza, and it helps that he has an option remaining. Calixte has to beat out a bunch of guys to win a roster spot, but given his glove and his status on the 40-man, it would be a surprise if we don’t see him at some point this season. 

ICYMI: Bruce Bochy said he’ll call Johnny Cueto to talk about his preparation for the World Baseball Classic. 

POSITION BATTLE: Matt Cain, the clear frontrunner for the No. 5 spot, faced hitters on the main field. Bochy liked what he saw. “He’s gotten more time away from that surgery and he’s throwing the ball well,” Bochy said. “Buster said the same thing. It’s coming out good.”

NOTEWORTHY: The Giants are serious about making Trevor Brown a more versatile option. He fielded grounders at short today and also spent plenty of time at second. 

QUOTABLE: “Just a good day. We (the coaches) were talking about how it’s changed a little bit. We’re not even in March yet and guys are letting it go.” — Bochy on the first day of live BP sessions. The pitchers were certainly well ahead of the hitters today. 

Will Cueto be ready for the WBC? 'That’s the question we have to answer'

Will Cueto be ready for the WBC? 'That’s the question we have to answer'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jeff Samardzija whirled and fired a strike to Eduardo Nuñez shortly after 11:30 a.m. on Monday. With that, the Giants took another step back toward actual baseball.

Monday was the first day of live batting practice sessions, but the most important one took place thousands of miles east of Scottsdale Stadium. Johnny Cueto faced teenage prospects at the club’s facility in Santo Domingo, and Bruce Bochy said he would call Cueto to check in on his progress. 

The Giants are not concerned that Cueto — who is tending to his ill father — is missing so much of spring training. They know him well enough by now to know that Cueto paces himself and takes care of his body. They are, however, starting to get a little concerned about Cueto missing so much camp and then going straight to the World Baseball Classic. 

“The spring started early so he’s got plenty of time to get ready for (opening day),” manager Bruce Bochy said. “The question will be will he be ready for the WBC. That’s the question we have to answer.”

Bochy said he would like to see Cueto in the 50-60 pitch range before he goes off to compete for the Dominican Republic. The Dominican team opens play March 9 at Marlins Park. 

“We’re going to talk about a lot of things,” Bochy said. “We’ll see where he’s at, see where he’s at mentally, and see how his father is doing.”

Bochy noted that Nolan Ryan used to show up to camp on March 1 and throw 80 mph, working his way up from there. The Giants view Cueto the same way, but at some point there will be a breaking point where the WBC participation becomes a real concern. At the very least, Bochy said, Cueto might be asked to join the DR team later in the tournament.