SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- As expected, Madison Bumgarner will be on the mound for the first inning when the Cactus League season begins Tuesday in Mesa against the A's. Matt Cain will have to wait a bit longer to get in a game, though.
Manager Bruce Bochy said Cain won't pitch an exhibition inning during the first turn in the rotation, but was adamant that the right-hander has not had a setback in his recovery from elbow and ankle surgeries. Cain will make his debut sometime between March 10 and March 14. The staff believes Cain will benefit more from additional bullpen sessions right now than from an inning against an opponent.
"We're just going to slow-play Matty," Bochy said. "We looked at it, talked to (trainer) Dave Groeschner, and he'll be right on schedule to pitch in that first (April series) if we do it this way. It gives a little more time for Matty. At this stage, I don't think it's time to get him over-amped. With the time we have in spring training, it allows us to wait a little bit. These guys, once they hit the field they turn it up a notch. Is he ready for that? Yeah, he probably is, but this gives us a little more time."
Cain has been right on track this spring, throwing bullpen sessions without restriction. He'll throw to Giants hitters on Sunday.
Elsewhere on the health front: Santiago Casilla (shin contusion) took part in the workout but was held out of live BP ... Sergio Romo (sore shoulder) felt fine after throwing a bullpen session Friday ... Angel Pagan returned to the field after missing two days with a sore neck.
Some other notes from the final Saturday without MLB baseball until November ...
CAN AOKI SPLASH? Nori Aoki has looked sharp while taking BP, even putting a few over the fences at Scottsdale Stadium. That's led to some excitement among the Japanese reporters following Aoki, and during Bochy's session with reporters on Saturday, one asked if Aoki was capable of hitting one into McCovey Cove. Bochy smiled and simply said he's been impressed by his new left fielder. The question actually isn't as strange as it first sounds. Per ESPN's home run tracker, all but one of Aoki's 19 career homers would have gone over the fences at AT&T Park, with 17 of them pulled right down the line. His lone homer last year was pulled straight down the line and went an estimated 372 feet. It's 309 feet to the pole in right at AT&T Park and then you've got to get it over the 24-foot wall, over the arcade section, over the portwalk and into the water. The weather matters too, of course.
So ... everything would have to line up pretty perfectly for Aoki to line one into the water. But it's not impossible.
FAMILIAR FACE: Via Kim Hudson's Twitter account, two former A's stars who are back in the desert together. Zito, by the way, is starting for the A's on Thursday, so he'll miss the two games against the Giants.
QUOTABLE: "Even in BP, these guys are competitive. They were looking forward to that matchup. I don't think (Bumgarner) wanted a guy in that whole group to get a hit and Buster got one right away. I don't think he was too happy. I think he was OK until that ball went off the center-field fence. I think that got in his craw a little bit." Bochy on Bumgarner vs. Posey.