07/13/09 5:34 PM ET
Cain enjoying All-Stars despite injury
Giants righty taking in experience but won't pitch in game
By Mychael Urban and Chris Haft / MLB.com
Sure. But Giants right-hander Matt Cain, removed from the National League All-Star roster Sunday, also is here in the flesh.
Cain, who earned his first trip to the Midsummer Classic by going 10-2 with a 2.38 ERA before the break, was hit near his right elbow by a line drive Saturday. And because that's his money-maker, the Giants essentially exercised their right as his employer by making him unavailable for Tuesday night's game at Busch Stadium.
That didn't stop Cain, who understood the decision, from going ahead with his All-Star plans. With his fiancee, her parents and his parents in tow, Cain is soaking up as much as he can.
"You kind of feel like you're in the way," he admitted Monday during the annual All-Star media scrum at a downtown hotel. "It's a weird situation, but I'm going to make the best of it."
X-rays on Cain's arm were negative. His outlook this week is entirely positive, starting with his thoughts on teammate Tim Lincecum being named the NL's starting pitcher.
"That's awesome," Cain said. "It's such a huge opportunity for him. I was hoping it would be him; everyone on the team was, and I'm sure Giants fans were, too. I knew would be either him or [Arizona's Dan] Haren. I'm pretty excited for him."
Lincecum, a two-time All-Star, had to miss last year's action because he was hospitalized with severe dehydration on the morning of the game.
"I know he was disappointed that he didn't get to pitch in the game last year," Cain said, "so it's going to be pretty cool to see Timmy go out there and showcase himself."
For Giants fans, having Lincecum and Cain as the anchors of San Francisco's starting rotation is beyond cool.The last time the Giants placed two starting pitchers on the National League All-Star team was 1966, when Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry were honored. Marichal and Perry continued to lead the Giants' staff for the next five seasons and earned election to the Hall of Fame. At their relatively young ages -- Lincecum is 25, Cain 24 -- there's hardly any guarantee that the Giants' current co-aces will follow the path of Marichal and Perry. Then again, given their youth, they stand in front of an almost untouched canvas. Who knows what works of pitching art they'll create? "You look at both of them and what they did this half. There is no better one-two combo, the way they were throwing and with Randy [Johnson] in between them," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "You want these guys trying to outdo each other, and it is a friendly competition. Just like hitting is contagious, I think good pitching is, and they feed off each other." Lately, Cain and Lincecum (10-2, 2.33) have virtually matched each other win for win, although Cain was the first to reach double figures last Monday.
When it was mentioned that he beat Lincecum to the 10-win mark, Cain said with a laugh, "You gotta stay ahead of him. He finds ways to do it, so you have to try to keep a step ahead of him as much as you can."Cain has pitched at least six innings in all but two of his 18 starts. He's tied with Lincecum for the NL lead in victories, tied for the league lead with three complete games, and third in the league in ERA behind Haren and Lincecum. "He has come into his own," St. Louis manager and NL All-Star coach Tony La Russa said of Cain. "His record is absolutely legit." Cain has more than reversed the 15-30 record he posted in 2007-08. He's benefited from several factors, including improved run support (his was the worst in the Majors over the previous two seasons), Johnson's influence (the Big Unit has impressed upon Cain not to accept losing), more effective offseason conditioning (Cain now plays at about 230 pounds, down from 245) and better command of his pitches (he no longer needs his full complement to succeed; if one's not working, he can get by on the rest). "Take whatever you have that day and throw it," Cain said, summarizing his philosophy. "I feel like whatever I throw, if I throw it right, I can get the guy out." He won't be getting anybody out Tuesday, but here are two more positives from Cain's perspective. His arm is feeling better than he thought it would three days after the injury, and knowing he won't have to pitch Tuesday might actually enhance his All-Star experience.
"It might be less stressful," he said. "Now I don't have to worry about when I'm going to have to warm up, who I'm going to face, things like that. I can just sit back and enjoy everything -- kind of like a fan.
"Hopefully I can get back here in the next couple years or so and do the pitching thing, too."
The 80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 5 p.m. PT. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage.