SCOTTSDALE — The Giants on Thursday will send a truck full of equipment and luggage back to San Francisco, meaning the countdown to the end of spring training has officially begun.
It is understandable, then, that fans are getting a bit weary of seeing lines like the one Matt Cain walked off with Wednesday: 4 innings, 7 hits, 6 earned runs. Cain has a 12.15 ERA this spring; Madison Bumgarner is at 10.57; Johnny Cueto has given up eight earned in 4 1/3 Cactus League innings; Jeff Samardzija and Jake Peavy have ERAs of 8.53 and 8.31, respectively.
There have been few clean innings and fewer decent starts, and Cain gets it. He understands there might be angst. He also understands that it’s March.
“Don’t panic about it too much,” he said. “Guys start to turn it up toward the end of the spring and they’ll be sequencing a little different.”
For younger players, the spring is about winning jobs. For veterans — and the Giants have five locked into their rotation — it’s about throwing all your pitches, getting your pitch count up, and staying healthy. Bumgarner is back after missing one start and he'll face Jake Arrieta on Thursday. Cueto is lined up to pitch Friday afternoon. Cain said his arm feels great after a couple of weeks of rehab following the removal of a cyst.
Cain was happy with Wednesday’s appearance, despite the results. He gave up a pair of homers, the latter a three-run shot from Jake Lamb that ruined Cain’s line. Cain said it was a slider that he yanked. The final pitch count was up above 70, and Cain is scheduled to make two more spring starts before the regular season.
“From the way I felt today, I don’t think we’re far off,” he said.
Cain feels the same way about the rest of the staff. Worrying about Bumgarner is a waste of time, and Peavy struck out eight on Tuesday. The new guys, Samardzija and Cueto, have impressed in flashes, even if the overall numbers are lagging.
Cain said it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that he learned to fully throw spring training stats out the window. Everyone starts at 0.00 on Opening Day.
“You look at the line (today) and it might have been a little funky, but that’s what spring is for,” he said. “That’s the tough part. We’ve got a veteran staff and we’ve got guys who know what they need to get done and know what they need to work on.”