Giants

Giants spring training Day 38: Cain still on track for fifth starter job

Giants spring training Day 38: Cain still on track for fifth starter job

MARYVALE, Ariz. — After a series of questions the other day about getting extra rest between starts, Madison Bumgarner smiled and pointed at the personalized calendar taped to his locker. He said he simply operates by the schedule set out by pitching coach Dave Righetti.

A glance at the calendar in Matt Cain’s locker might show a reason why the longest-tenured Giant is still in a good position to win the No. 5 starter spot despite continued spring struggles. Because they have two off days sandwiching a two-game series in Kansas City in the middle of April, the Giants can potentially use their No. 5 starter just twice until April 25, a span of 20 games.

If there’s any concern about Cain’s ability to hold up during the regular season, the early slate could help. The Giants can throw Cain against the Padres and Diamondbacks to start the season, and if it's not working out, they can go a stretch with just their top four as they reevaluate. 

"We'll see once we get a little closer how guys are doing, but it certainly gives you some options," manager Bruce Bochy said. 

Cain has been preparing all along to start April 7 at Petco Park. That hasn’t changed.

“That’s what I’m looking at,” he said. “That’s the only thing I’m preparing for, to make sure I’m ready to go 100 pitches.”

Cain had another mixed-bag day against the Brewers. The first inning was full of loud contact and Cain was charged with three runs on four hits. But he settled down from there, allowing just one run over the next four innings. In all, Cain allowed four runs on seven hits and struck out four. He said he tried to change speeds more often after the early ambush. 

“I was maybe getting the timing different for them,” he said. “Those guys were getting balls where they could hit them. You’ve got to make a quick adjustment to that, and I had to do that.”

Cain threw 70 pitches, another sign that he’s locked in for April 7. His competition, Ty Blach, has not been fully stretched out this spring. 

TRAINER'S ROOM: Will Smith will head to Los Angeles on Thursday to get a second opinion on his left elbow strain. The Giants will then know if Smith needs Tommy John surgery, which would end his season. Eduardo Nuñez flew back to San Francisco with Smith earlier in the week to get a corisone shot in his sore right shoulder. He's back, but he'll be down a few days. 

GAME RECAP: Hunter Pence has been slumping for several weeks, but he got on the board in the sixth with a double that spun off the end of his bat and down the first base line. A classic Pence hit ... Jae-gyun Hwang hit a two-run shot to right-center ... Steven Okert did some nifty work to keep his spring ERA at 0.00. With runners on first and third and no outs, he got a double play and a fly ball to left.

ICYMI: Barry Bonds has arrived. Here is a story about his return to the Giants, and here’s video from his media session this morning. 

GOOD NEWS: First base coach Jose Alguacil returned to camp Wednesday morning, and he said he’s only a few days from returning to game action. Alguacil, who had surgery earlier in March after taking a line drive off the face, was cleared for full activity. Hensley Meulens, Dave Groeschner and Taira Uematsu also returned from a stint in the WBC. 

FLASHING THE LEATHER: Aaron Hill started the prettiest double play of the spring by snagging a Hernan Perez liner with a dive and making a perfect throw to second baseman Gordon Beckham. Hill later smashed a double into the left field corner. That dude is making the team. 

QUOTABLE: "I figured Barry is in town, so I'd show him how it's done." -- Denard Span on a very long two-run homer he hit to right. 

2019 MLB predictions: American, National League Cy Young Award winners

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NBC Sports

2019 MLB predictions: American, National League Cy Young Award winners

The MLB season is here, and we're turning our eyes towards the players that could dominate the season. MLB reporters from across NBC Sports came together to make their predictions for the 2019 AL and NL Cy Young awards.

Could Madison Bumgarner make a contract-year Cy Young push for the Giants? Will the A's have a surprise candidate from their touch-and-go rotation?

Before we get into their predictions, let's meet the panel.

NBC Sports Bay Area - Alex Pavlovic (Giants)
NBC Sports California - Ben Ross (A's)
NBC Sports Boston - Lou Merloni (Red Sox)
NBC Sports Chicago - Tony Andracki (Cubs)
NBC Sports Chicago - Vinnie Duber (White Sox)
NBC Sports Philadelphia - Corey Seidman (Phillies)
NBC Sports Washington - Todd Dybas (Nationals)

Be sure to tune in to Wednesday's season preview show at 11:00 a.m. PT streaming on the MyTeams app.

VIEW THE PREDICTIONS HERE

MLB rumors: Giants acquire Tom Murphy for even more catching depth

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USATSI

MLB rumors: Giants acquire Tom Murphy for even more catching depth

SAN FRANCISCO -- If you're a catcher who is on the edge of an MLB roster, find some orange cleats. There's a decent chance you'll be a Giant by the end of the week.

For the third consecutive day, the Giants made a roster move involving a catcher. This time they claimed former Rockies backstop Tom Murphy, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

This comes two days after they released Rene Rivera, who looked headed for an Opening Day job, and one day after they traded for Erik Kratz, who was named the backup catcher by manager Bruce Bochy on Sunday evening. 

It's unclear how it will all be sorted out by Thursday morning, although at this point there seems a very real possibility that Aramis Garcia is being shopped for outfield help. 

Murphy, 27, has a .219/.271/.439 slash line in parts of four major league seasons with the Rockies. He had a .637 OPS last season with 44 strikeouts and just three walks in 96 plate appearances, which makes him the opposite of what the Giants have been looking for.

[RELATED: Longtime Giants could hit milestones this season]

He would seem a good candidate to provide depth at Triple-A, except he's out of options, so the Giants would have to sneak him through waivers, something the Rockies weren't able to do. The Giants have had success, though, in doing that with other additions this offseason.