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Giants pair revels in experience
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07/11/2004 7:46 PM ET
Giants pair revels in experience
Cain, Valdez get taste of Majors in prospect showcase
tickets for any Major League Baseball game
HOUSTON -- Even if their stats were worlds apart, Giants pitching prospects Matt Cain and Merkin Valdez agreed their experiences Sunday at the All-Star Futures Game at Minute Maid Park was memorable and exciting.

Cain, San Francisco's first-round pick in the 2002 draft, had control problems while facing three batters in the seventh inning as part of the USA team, which edged the World team, 4-3. Only 19, the former Tennessee High School Player of the Year two seasons ago, walked two, gave up a double and allowed three earned runs in a 17-pitch effort.

2004 All-Star Game

Valdez, 22, fared better, retiring two batters on infield outs on eight pitches in the bottom of the sixth before being taken out.

Cain admitted it was "amazing" to be part of this nationally televised Futures spectacle, a prelude to the 75th All-Star Game here on Tuesday night and one of the more popular events each season.

"I was a little off," said the 6-foot-3 hurler, currently playing for Double-A Norwich (Eastern League). "I got ahead of a couple guys, then let it slip rather than put them away. It was all right. It wasn't bad, but I did get a little frustrated.

"It was amazing -- the most fascinating thing I've ever done," said the youngster, who sadly said it's now back to work for the Norwich Navigators, where he's 2-1, with a 2.08 ERA over five games. "It's nice out here. It's great to be around these guys and watch them work. For one day, it's awesome to be out here."

Cain said he had fun during his stint, even if he was off his game. As a starter in the minors, he's used to slowly getting into his rhythm, so Sunday's few batters was a bit strange.

"I felt like did have my good stuff, but I just couldn't put them away."

As for improving this season with the Navigators, Cain thinks he's right on target.

"I've gotten a lot better with my mechanics this season," he said. "I need to fill out my body a lot more, but I'm pleased with what's going on. Every pitch and every game you learn something from yourself or the hitters."

Valdez has struck out 44 batters over 35 2/3 innings this year at Class A San Jose, logging a 3-1 record with a 2.52 ERA.

"It was all right, everything was good," said the right-hander. "I don't know why they took me out [after two batters], but I had a good time being here. My game is getting better.

"There were a lot of people here, but it was like the same," said Valdez, who had an Achilles tendon problem in the spring, but is healthy now. "I'm 100 percent," said the hurler.

Rich Draper is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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