SAN FRANCISCO -- Ty Blach made it close, but in the end the Giants stuck with the original plan.
Matt Cain will start the season as the fifth starter, manager Bruce Bochy said, with Blach filling a swingman role on the pitching staff. Bochy said he liked what he saw from Cain late in the spring, noting that while some of the numbers were ugly, his stuff was fine and he wasn't walking hitters.
"He's healthy. He threw strikes. He got better as he went," Bochy said. "His secondary pitches came around at the end. He deserves to be our fifth starter right now."
Cain will certainly be on a short leash, with Blach ready and Tyler Beede charging fast. Team officials went into the spring competition hoping Cain could win it, and the need became greater when Will Smith went down to Tommy John. Sources insist the contract did not come into play in the end. The bigger off-field factor was showing respect to the longest-tenured Giant, a player who has taken dozens of pitchers -- including Blach -- under his wing.
While it wasn't announced, sources told NBC Sports Bay Area that the bench will consist of Nick Hundley, Conor Gillaspie, Aaron Hill, Gorkys Hernandez and Chris Marrero.
Marrero broke through with a huge spring, hitting eight homers and earning a spot as Jarrett Parker's platoon partner. He could start as soon as Tuesday, when the Giants face lefty Pat Corbin at Chase Field. Hernandez will be the primary backup to Denard Span and Hunter Pence. Gillaspie will see plenty of time at third, especially with Eduardo Nuñez set to be the starter at third but also the backup shortstop. Hill can play all four infield spots as well as left field.
With those five on the team, Kelby Tomlinson was left on the outside looking in. Tomlinson has an option remaining, which hurt his cause.
Hundley has been locked in as Buster Posey's backup since the moment he signed, setting Trevor Brown and Tim Federowicz as the Triple-A catchers. Federowicz can opt out if he finds a 40-man deal elsewhere.
"He's had a nice spring," Bochy said. "This is the best group of catchers I've had here. Fed-X just did a terrific job swinging the bat and catching. I wish I had a spot for him, like Brownie, but to have four guys like this ... that's the best catching group I've had."
--- Jimmy Rollins had hoped to win the job that eventually went to Hill. He was told earlier in the week that he would not make the team, and on Friday team officials spoke with Rollins. He was released so he could pursue other opportunities.