SCOTTSDALE -- The Giants have hoped all along that Matt Cain would be ready to take the ball on April 8 against the Dodgers. On Monday, Cain made it an easy decision.
The right-hander threw 90 pitches in a minor league game, allowing one run in 5 1/3 innings. His command was there throughout, and while the off-speed pitches were shaky early, they came around in Cain's final two innings. Cain lost the start of the Cactus League slate to a procedure to remove a cyst, but he's getting locked in at the right time. He said Monday's outing was a relief.
"To a little over a month ago have surgery -- it wasn't anything big, but it's still something, especially on the arm ..." Cain said. "(The trainers) have done a great job to maintain it and get the arm strength there."
Cain was sitting 89-91 mph with his fastball while facing Cubs prospects, and he said that's about where he expects to be. His average fastball velocity has been between 91.0 and 91.6 each of the last five seasons.
"If there's another (mph) or two as we start to get going, that's great, but if not that's fine, too," Cain said.
The most important thing to the Giants was the fact that Cain kept that velocity deep into the game. He was sitting 91 in his final inning and passed all his tests, even beating speedy Shawon Dunston Jr. to the bag on a grounder to the right side. It wasn't long before the older Dunston got a text message about the play.
"I'm still faster than him to first, so that's good," Cain said, smiling.
--- Andrew Susac caught Cain and will catch Madison Bumgarner in a minor league game Tuesday afternoon. Susac said there's no longer pain when he swings a bat, and he may stay down here for a few more days to catch up on lost at-bats. He had missed a week with irritation in his surgically-repaired right wrist. Buster Posey was back in the lineup after missing Sunday's game with hip tightness. It's something Posey has dealt with in the past -- including last season -- and he said there's absolutely no concern.
--- Gustavo Cabrera got a couple of at-bats in Cain's minor league game. The outfield prospect nearly lost his right hand in a gruesome injury, but he's all the way back. Chris Shaw was also in that minor league game, and looks headed to San Jose.
--- Most of the team will fly back Tuesday morning and play in an exhibition in Sacramento on Wednesday. Matt Duffy and Joe Panik are the only regulars being held out, but they'll play in Surprise against the Royals tomorrow night. Johnny Cueto starts the game in Sacramento.
--- You might have to watch this play a few times to get a full sense of it, but Brandon Crawford is ready. Panik's nonchalance might be the best part of that play.