Players react to Cain retirement announcement: 'He’s just a complete Giant'


Players react to Cain retirement announcement: 'He’s just a complete Giant'

Programming note: Watch the encore presentation of Matt Cain's perfect game from 2012 -- This Saturday, Sept. 30 immediately following Warriors basketball  at 8 p.m. and Sunday morning Oct. 1, at 8 a.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area. 

PHOENIX — Madison Bumgarner didn’t hesitate when asked if he remembers the first time he met Matt Cain. Bumgarner said it was his first spring with the Giants, and he was going down the clubhouse stairs. Cain was coming up them, and he introduced himself. A friendship built from there. 

That’s been the case for so many Giants. Cain, drafted in 2002 and in the big leagues since 2005, has been a welcoming presence for rookies, journeymen, big free agent signings and even members of the coaching staff. He is revered, and that made Wednesday a special day for the Giants despite the final result. 

Sam Dyson blew a two-run lead in the ninth and the Giants lost their final road game 4-3, but about an hour before the first pitch, they had a special moment in the clubhouse. Cain stood up in front of his peers and announced his retirement in a ceremony that he said got emotional at times. 

Cain will make his final appearance in the big leagues when he starts Saturday against the Padres. Buster Posey, who has played first base most of the last month, will be behind the plate. He said he wouldn’t have it any other way. He wants to be there when Cain finishes a 13-year-run in orange and black. 

“That’s something he’s proud of and he should be proud of,” Posey said. “You don’t see that happen very often. For him to be up as young as he was and to stay here for 13 years is a great accomplishment.”

The Saturday assignment was one of the factors that played into Bruce Bochy ending Bumgarner’s season a week early. Bumgarner, for his part, called Cain one of his best friends, and said he’s looking forward to Matt Cain Day. 

“He’s a special person and one of the better Giants to ever put on this uniform,” Bumgarner said. “He gave us the best he had every time … he’s had an unbelievable career, and I’m just happy to have been a part of it.”

The Giants have not announced or hinted at any post-career discussions with Cain, but they hope to do what they always do. Bochy said he would like Cain around, and the right-hander — who has taken several young pitchers under his wing this season — will forever be a welcome guest in the clubhouse or at spring training. Bochy said he was struck by Cain’s success, but also the way he has handled his final years, when injuries and age have limited his effectiveness. 

“I can’t thank him enough for all he has done — he’s been great this year,” Bochy said. “He was moved around (in the rotation) and pitched in the bullpen and he never came into this office one time to complain. That’s something I’ll never forget. He’s just a complete Giant with the way he carried himself and how he played.”

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

PEORIA — Jeff Samardzija spent a couple minutes after Thursday’s start talking to reporters about how deep he thinks the Giants lineup can be. It’ll be a hell of a lot deeper if Hunter Pence keeps hitting like this. 

After a slow start to the spring, Pence is charging. He had three hits against the Padres: a triple that bounced off the top of the wall in right-center, a hard single up the middle, and a double to center. The more encouraging plays for the Giants happened in left field. Pence chased down a drive to the line in the third inning, leaving the bases loaded. He opened the fourth by going the other direction and gloving a fly ball to left-center. 

"A good game for Hunter, both ways," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's getting more comfortable out there. You can see it with the jumps he's getting right now. It takes a little while when you change positions, but I think he's going to be fine out there."

The Giants appear set to have Austin Jackson and Pence atop the lineup against left-handed starters, and that duo could see plenty of time early. Seven of the first nine games are against the Dodgers, who have four lefty starters. 

--- Evan Longoria had a double off the right-center wall on Wednesday after missing a week with a sore ankle. He had a single the same way in his second at-bat Thursday. More than the at-bats, Longoria has impressed with his soft hands and steady arm at third. The ankle looks fine, too. 

“My ankle feels pretty good,” Longoria said. “I don’t think it’s going to be an issue going forward.”

--- It’s been a quiet spring for Andrew McCutchen, but we saw the wheels tonight. McCutchen easily stole second after a two-run single in the fifth. When Evan Longoria bounced one to the left side, shortstop Freddy Galvis tried to go to third for the lead out, but McCutchen beat that throw, too. He got up and put his hands on his hips, as if to say, "Why'd you even try that?"

--- Samardzija allowed three homers in a six-batter span in the third. He allowed three homers in an inning in his previous start, too, but he said he’s not concerned. Samardzija deemed it a sequencing issue. He’s working in a new changeup and threw it in situations he normally wouldn’t; Eric Hosmer took advantage of a floating one, crushing it to deep, deep right for the third homer. 

--- With a runner on, Brandon Belt put down a perfect bunt to foil the shift. Belt does that every spring, particularly against NL West teams, but rarely during the regular season. Maybe this will be the year?

Belt later crushed a homer to deep right. That had to feel good for a number of reasons. Belt is fighting a cold and he learned earlier in the day that his college coach, Augie Garrido, had passed away.

Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential


Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For most pitchers, spring training is a time to experiment and add a pitch or two. Josh Osich is using this month to go the other direction. 

Osich spent the offseason watching film of his 2015 season, when he looked like he might one day be the closer in San Francisco, and decided that he needed to get back to his roots. That means the curveball, which he tried so hard to mix in last year, is now far back in the cupboard. The four-seam and two-seam fastballs are once again the focus, with an emphasis on changing eye levels more than he did a year ago. The changeup and cutter will round out his arsenal for the most part. 

Osich’s raw stuff is still as good as just about any lefty reliever in the league, and he hopes to take advantage of that while putting a rough 2017 season in his rearview mirror. He had a 6.23 ERA last season and 1.73 WHIP.

“It’s just one of those learning years,” Osich said. “I tried to live at the bottom of the zone and I was, but I was actually below the zone. So then I would fall behind and need to throw a strike and that’s when guys would hit me.”

Osich, 29, had a 2.20 ERA and 1.12 WHIP during that 2015 season that he keeps going back to. He walked eight batters in 28 2/3 innings, a far cry from the 27 he walked in 43 1/3 last year. While watching the 2015 version of himself, Osich saw that his hands were higher, and that’s something he’s working to replicate. He’s also trying to slow his pace to the plate. So far, the results are nothing but encouraging. Osich allowed one hit and struck out one in a 2 1/3 inning appearance on Wednesday night. Manager Bruce Bochy let him extend himself to keep the good vibes going. 

In six appearances this spring, Osich has allowed just four hits over seven scoreless innings. He has seven strikeouts and one walk. 

“O, it just seems like he’s got confidence,” Bochy said. “He’s kept it simple, he’s not tinkering with different pitches. He’s throwing more strikes, and more than anything he’s just trying to pound the strike zone now with quality strikes. That’s all he has to do. You look at him and he’s hitting 95 with a couple of good off-speed pitches. That works here.”