SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The phrase “listen to my body” is a popular one with Giants starters these days.
Tim Lincecum said he’ll do so as he recovers from a stiff neck. Matt Cain used similar words after pitching in a minor league game Thursday afternoon, saying he might skip between-starts bullpen sessions during the season. Tim Hudson has taken it slow between starts this spring and even Madison Bumgarner has had his work closely monitored; the Opening Day starter threw two innings in his last start and then finished up his day on a bullpen mound.
“We can be bullheaded,” Cain said when asked about the need to limit extra work.
The good news for Cain is that his elbow feels great as April approaches, but to keep it that way, he’ll tweak his routine. Cain hasn’t been throwing much between starts and said he’ll likely do more work on flat ground during the regular season, rather than throwing bullpen sessions.
“It might have to be different,” he said. “I’ll take a step back. You just have to find (the right) feeling and be ready for your start on day five.”
To regulate his March workload, Cain may make one more start at minor league camp, where innings can be halted or extended depending on the pitcher’s wishes. He threw 51 pitches in 3 1/3 innings Thursday, giving up one run on two hits and a hit-by-pitch. He struck out six. Cain came back out for the fourth to face just one batter. He said he wanted to get used to sitting down and then taking the mound again.
“It felt pretty good,” he said. “It’s good to get up and down like that. That was the goal. We did what we wanted to do today.”
Other notes from the day the Giants won a baseball game …
HEALTH WATCH: Bochy watched Lincecum throw a bullpen session and said he’s “ready to go.” Lincecum will start Saturday. There was an Angel Pagan update this morning, and after the game Bochy admitted that there has to be some concern. Hector Sanchez was down for a while after taking a foul tip, but he’s fine. The ball hit him in the Bumgarners. Ryan Vogelsong was fine after taking a ball off the shin.
ICYMI: I tried to do something a little different here with Brandon Crawford. He sat down and watched five of his best plays from 2014, and then explained how he made them. There’s some candid stuff in there about robbing shortstops, protecting no-hitters and getting hot in the field.
FAMILIAR FACES: There were plenty of them over in minor league camp, where Cain was throwing. John Bowker played first base for the Triple-A side and Jake Dunning was watching Cain closely. Matt Yourkin is down there helping out as a coach. Steve Kline and Lee Smith were among the coaches walking around the fields.
POSITION CHANGE: Bochy talked to Nori Aoki and told him that he would move back to left field for the rest of the spring after a brief experiment in right. Aoki has been a right fielder most of his career, but the Giants feel it’s not worth it to move him out there while Hunter Pence is out and then ask him to move back to left.
NOTEWORTHY: I don’t know if the Giants all spent part of the off day reading CSNBayArea.com, but they sure did play like a group that heard Bochy’s message the other day, winning 3-2 over the Brewers. Vogelsong got the Giants off to a good start with 4 2/3 scoreless innings. He gave up two hits, walked two and struck out four.
“We talked about playing crisper and guys did a good job,” Bochy said. “It was a good game, a normal game.”
Joe Panik hit his second homer of the spring (“He’s a home-run hitter,” Bochy joked. “He’ll hit about .150 with 30 bombs.”) and Brandon Belt went the opposite way for his third. Sergio Romo put the tying run on third with no outs in the ninth but wriggled out of the jam.