SAN FRANCISCO -- Bruce Bochy made the long walk from the visiting clubhouse to the visiting bullpen on Friday afternoon at Coors Field, and he liked what he saw. Matt Cain threw all his pitches off a bullpen mound for the first time and had no physical issues.
"It went very well. He felt fine," Bochy said. "It was a good session for him. We'll see how he comes out of it. If all goes well he could throw to hitters in Milwaukee on Tuesday."
That would be the next big step for Cain, and usually you're not too far from a rehab assignment once you start facing hitters. The Giants, however, will continue to "slow-play" Cain, Bochy said. They do not anticipate getting him back before the All-Star break, in large part because they want to make sure his flexor strain is fully healed.
"We're not going to rush this thing," Bochy said. "When you have an injury, whether it's a hamstring or elbow, when you hurt it a second time that's when rehab becomes a bigger issue and a longer rehab. That's why we want to make sure this guy heals and he's good to go."
Cain has not pitched in the big leagues since last July 9 and will go a full calendar year without pitching in an MLB game. The Giants are fine with that, and Bochy said the goal is to have Cain at his best over the season's final two months. For now, the Giants don't necessarily need him. Jake Peavy is close to returning to the rotation and the current group has led the club to seven shutouts this month.
Per Elias, this is the first month since 1969 in which a rotation has had two different streaks of three consecutive shutouts. The Mets did it back then. The legendary Braves rotation was the last to do it twice in one season, with two three-straight-shutout streaks in 1992.
--- Hunter Pence got bumped back behind Brandon Belt in the lineup, and Bochy said he could go that way for now against right-handers, with Pence eventually moving back up behind Buster Posey full-time. This makes sense for now. Belt has quietly been one of the league's best hitters and it breaks up the lefties and righties.
--- Rain is in the forecast and we could have a delay, which would be awesome since there are three more games scheduled over the next 48 hours. If we do get delayed, I highly suggest watching this Vine over and over again.
Or, you could read my recap of the season's first quarter. Who is the MVP? Who was the best pitcher on staff? Who surprised and who disappointed?