Giants

Cain says he'd be pumped to start home opener

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Cain says he'd be pumped to start home opener

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- If the Giants skip Ryan Vogelsong's first turn through the rotation, then Matt Cain would receive the game ball and the starting assignment for the Giants' home opener April 13 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

It would be fitting, given what the fan base thinks of him -- and that this could be his last season as a Giant.

Whether he signs a lucrative long-term extension before the opener or not, a wide-eyed Cain said he'd relish the honor.

"That's what's great about our park," Cain said. "The fans are there every day. Even weekday games, it's a packed house. They love baseball and it's shown with ... the attendance."

Cain will be a free agent after this season and prefers not to let negotiations for an extension leak past opening day. He hasn't started a season opener as a Giant, but he's gotten the home opener once -- in 2008, when he was beaten 8-4 by the San Diego Padres and Greg Maddux.

"The first time I did it, it was a little intense," Cain said. "You're not used to all that extra stuff that goes on. You have to give yourself extra time."

Cain has some experience with that, though. Last year, he started the second home game -- which was preceded by the World Series rings ceremony.

Cain got one step closer to the regular season by throwing five shutout innings against an Oakland A's Triple-A squad at Indian School Park on Monday. While the rest of their teammates enjoyed their only day off on the Cactus League Schedule, Cain threw to Hector Sanchez and pitched around some hard contact while throwing strikes.

He allowed four hits (three doubles), struck out four and didn't walk a batter. Cain gave up consecutive doubles in the fourth inning, but remarkably, the A's failed to score. Heavy legged catcher Derek Norris, who also doubled off Tim Lincecum two days earlier, got a bad read and ended up getting thrown out at the plate on a strong relay from center fielder Francisco Peguero to second baseman Charlie Culberson to Sanchez at the plate. The catcher blocked the plate as Norris awkwardly slidbumped into him, then finally picked up the ball on the dirt and tagged him out.

"I think it caught both of those guys off guard," said Cain, who appreciated Sanchez's efforts.

Cain said he threw all his pitches and approached the start like he was trying to get outs rather than work on specific locations.

"The last start, I wasn't throwing in to lefties that well," he said. "Today, it was better."

Tim Lincecum is scheduled to start the Giants' season opener April 6 at Arizona -- his fourth consecutive opening-day assignment. Barry Zito started the season openers in 2007 and '08 and Jason Schmidt held that honor before that.

Vogelsong is building arm strength after missing time because of a strained lower back; the Giants have a day off in the middle of their season-opening road trip to Arizona and Colorado, so they could get by with four starters until the ninth game of the season, on April 15.

Hunter Pence changing positions to accommodate Andrew McCutchen

Hunter Pence changing positions to accommodate Andrew McCutchen

SAN FRANCISCO -- Andrew McCutchen has spent his entire career as a center fielder. With a new team comes a new position. 

Manager Bruce Bochy confirmed on Tuesday that McCutchen will move to right field for the Giants, with Hunter Pence sliding over from right to left. Bochy said he talked to McCutchen about the plan -- one the Giants had throughout the McCutchen chase -- after Monday's trade. 

"I'm looking forward to right field," McCutchen said. "That's one place people can't pick on me saying that my defensive metrics are so bad. I'm looking forward to playing right. I know there's a lot of room out there to run, so it's definitely going to be almost like playing center."

McCutchen said he's looking forward to picking Pence's brain about patrolling right field at AT&T Park. Bochy has already spoken to Pence and said his longtime right fielder is on board with the plan. 

"He's just so excited about getting Cutch on this club that he's good with anything or whatever is best for this club," Bochy said. "So that's the plan right now."

McCutchen has played 11,621 defensive innings in his career and all but 115 1/3 of them have been in center field. He briefly moved to right field last season but shifted back to center when Starling Marte was suspended for testing positive for a banned substance. McCutchen was a Gold Glove Award winner in 2012 but his defensive metrics tailed off in recent seasons. He was worth negative 28 Defensive Runs Saved in 2016 and was at negative 16 DRS last season. 

McCutchen had wanted to stay in center in Pittsburgh, but said it's a new case with a new team.

"I wasn’t too keen on (moving at first) because I felt that I had more there, that I could do something there (in center)," he said. "I honored (the Pirates) once they wanted me to play a little shallower and that backfired on me. I was basically asking for another shot but I didn’t get that chance or opportunity. But now that I’m going into the Giants organization and this is something they want me to do, I’m all for it.

"San Francisco has a huge field. It’s bigger than PNC Park. They’ve got Triples Alley and it’s called Triples Alley for a reason. For me, it’s another center field. I’m moving over a little and if it’s saving my legs and I can get more stolen bases, I’m all game and I’m all for it.”

Pirates front office raves about McCutchen after trading him to Giants

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USATSI

Pirates front office raves about McCutchen after trading him to Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — There was a sense of celebration within the Giants organization on Monday after the addition of Andrew McCutchen. He is easily their best outfielder, a potential solution atop the order, and a player who is known for being a tremendous presence in the clubhouse. 

If the Giants had any doubts, though, they surely felt better after seeing the quotes that came out of Pittsburgh. In a series of statements, Pirates officials made it clear this was a difficult trade to make, with chairman Bob Nutting calling it “one of the most emotionally agonizing decisions that we have had to make in my tenure.”

Nutting, in a statement, said that McCutchen’s smile and energy were infectious even as a teenager. Later, McCutchen got the Pirates to three straight postseason appearances. 

“He did so while always carrying himself with humility, dignity and grace,” Nutting said. 

Team president Frank Coonelly described the trade as painful. 

“(No) individual was more responsible for the success that we had from 2013 to 2015 than Cutch,” Coonelly said in a statement,” And no player was more disappointed than Andrew that we did not break through and win a World Series Championship for the City of Pittsburgh.”

McCutchen was Pittsburgh’s first-round selection in the 2005 draft and made his debut in 2009. In nine seasons with the Pirates, he was a five-time All-Star and a perennial MVP candidate. He won the award in 2013 and finished in the top five of voting for four consecutive seasons. 

General manager Neal Huntington said the decision to actually part with the franchise player was “incredibly difficult.”

“Watching Andrew patrol center field with grace, fly around the bases, drive the ball all around the ballpark, celebrate with his teammates or interact with his family, friends or fans has created lifelong memories for me and many, many others around the game of baseball,” he said.