NEW YORK -- Chris Heston is in the rotation because a flexor strain put Matt Cain on the disabled list before he could make his first start of the season. So, did Cain have any words of advice or encouragement for the rookie a couple months ago?
"I just told him 'You're welcome,'" Cain deadpanned Wednesday, a day after Heston threw a no-hitter. "No, it's well deserved. That's a spot he needs to be in. He needs to be a guy that's starting."
Heston was called up as a reliever last September but he's taking full advantage of his time in the rotation. His no-hitter gave the Giants four in four years, a historic streak that started with Cain's perfect game in 2012.
Cain wasn't in the park when Heston made history on Tuesday. He was in Richmond, making his first rehab start for the Double-A squad. The minor leaguers had Game 3 of the NBA Finals on in the clubhouse TV but Cain noticed outfielder Mac Williamson watching the Giants-Mets game on his iPad.
"He said, he's pitching pretty good. Like, PRETTY good," Cain said. "We saw him throw the end of the seventh, and then we saw his magnificent baserunning."
The team watched the rest on the TV, and Cain said he felt pride when watching Heston put his name in the record books. He also enjoyed the final celebration, one few Giants have been able to try over the years. Heston briefly took a step toward third and dropped a throw before giving Buster Posey a big hug.
"It looked like he was going to go off the field," Cain said, smiling. "It was priceless. It was really cool. To have a guy like this, we've heard about Heston the past couple of years."
Heston has finally arrived, and now the Giants have a tough decision to make. Cain and Jake Peavy are close to returning, and Cain may be closer than expected after 3 2/3 strong innings on Tuesday. He gave up two runs but got his fastball up to 94 mph, sitting comfortably at around 91 most of the night. Cain said his arm strength is where it needs to be, he just needs to get his pitch count up. He'll push it a little harder when starting for Triple-A Sacramento next Monday.
Asked if he's finally back to normal after nearly a year away from the big leagues, Cain paused. He's not sure what "normal" is anymore after having bone chips removed from his elbow. But he feels great.
"I'm as close to 'normal' as I could be," he said.
--- If you missed it earlier, here's what Heston said a day after his no-hitter. Heston gave four radio interviews today and he'll do a TV one on MLB Network later this week. His manager was just as busy.
"Heston is from my hometown (in Florida) and (reporters there) couldn't get a hold of him so they were wearing me out," Bochy said. "I said, 'Chris, you're killing me.'"
Bochy said the key for Heston will be moving past this and making sure he stays consistent. It's been a roller coaster for the rookie over the last month, a lot of very good and a lot of pretty bad.
"He's too good to have those valleys," Bochy said.
--- Gregor Blanco is officially on the DL and Jarrett Parker is here. It sure sounds like Hunter Pence will join Blanco on the DL tomorrow, and Bochy said the Giants would add a hitter if Pence goes on the DL. Adam Duvall would be one candidate, but Hector Sanchez is a decent bet, too. He's on the 40-man roster and that would allow Bochy to use Andrew Susac as a pinch-hitter.
Either way, this is probably a short-term thing. Pence can return next week if he goes on the DL and he doesn't seem to think he's more than three or four rest days away from being fine. Blanco's situation is more complicated. He's on the 7-day concussion DL but you never know with a head injury. Brandon Belt missed 46 games a year ago when he got concussed.