SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants are finally able to give some more concrete rehab dates for two of their key players.
Matt Cain will play catch Tuesday for the first time since going on the DL in early April with a flexor strain. By Tuesday, Hunter Pence could be pretty far along in the rehab process. The right fielder hit soft toss pitches in the cage Friday at Coors Field and Bochy said he's getting close to being able to zero in on a rehab assignment.
Cain has been running sprints every day since going down, but playing catch is the first step toward getting back on the mound. The Giants, Bochy said, will slow-play Cain for now, but they have high hopes.
"My hope is that we're going to see the Matt Cain that we know," Bochy said. "It's going to be important for us to maybe slow-play this a little so we don't have another setback. He showed (good) signs before the last setback. I think we have a good chance of seeing the Matt Cain we know."
It'll be many more weeks before the Giants know for sure. Playing catch is a good first step, but a pitcher then has to push the distance further out and then get back on a mound. Cain would need at least a couple of rehab starts once his arm strength returns.
Pence will need rehab starts in the minors, too, and Bochy said it's possible that happens during the next homestand. The Giants return to AT&T Park next Friday. Bochy said Pence was not restricted while taking swings Friday.
"He was hitting off a tee, going to right (field), pulling the ball, hitting soft toss," he said. "It was really amazing. He had incredible bat control today. He was going toward (the right-center portion of the cage) and every ball was to the same spot. It was pretty impressive."
--- With Pence still sidelined, Bochy is sticking with Justin Maxwell in right field. The first-year Giant is hitting .300 early on and had the walk-off hit in Thursday's win over the Dodgers.
"Right now with the way he's playing, he's earned it," Bochy said. "I like his at-bats, and not just the hit to win the game, but the quality of the at-bats has been very good. I look at the patience he's shown, particularly with two strikes. He's not panicking. He's quiet up there and not expanding the zone. He's keeping his composure up there. He's not chasing."
Maxwell and Gregor Blanco are in the lineup today. Nori Aoki is fine, but Bochy wanted him to get a day off after starting the first 17 games.
--- Seems we say this every time we come here, but weather will be a factor. It already rained briefly and it's supposed to be spraying a bit the whole weekend. Remember, the Giants only have 12 pitchers right now, so they'll want to avoid long rain delays.