SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Matt Cain hoped to be ready to go six innings by Opening Day. After Tuesday's outing, he's close to hitting that goal.
Cain threw 75 pitches in five innings of a Triple-A game and said he remains right on track despite a little lingering soreness this spring. The 30-year-old right-hander admitted that his elbow, from which bone chips were removed last season, has been sore at times during and after spring starts, but team trainers told him to expect that to happen.
"At first when it happened you're not used to it, so you lean on the trainers a lot," Cain said. "They've done a good job of taking care of it. They said at some point or another it's going to happen, but it seems like it happened the last couple of starts and it's kind of fading now."
Cain said trainers told him to expect this "as part of the rehab process." He is still getting his arm up to speed, but Tuesday was a good step, with Cain breezing through most of his work. The lone exception was the fourth inning, when a dropped pop-up with two outs kept Cain on the mound. He ended up throwing 24 pitches in the inning, but said his stamina is fine.
"Today was the best it probably felt out of all the starts, so that's a good plus for us," he said. "That's what we needed."
Cain threw all his pitches while giving up two unearned runs on six hits. He struck out four and hit one. Cain has made two straight starts at the minor league facility, but his next start could come Sunday against the Dodgers.
Angel Pagan's return to the Cactus League will come much sooner than that. The center fielder was 1 for 4 in the same game and will return to the big league lineup on Wednesday. Pagan, who had been out with back tightness, looked fine while playing the field and taking his hacks. He was robbed of a double by a diving catch in the second inning, but singled in his next at-bat and came around to score later in the inning.