For whatever reason, Cain’s primed for big year
Saturday, Feb. 18
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Matt Cain would feel determined to perform well under any circumstances. As we know by now, that’s the type of competitor he is.
Yet Cain dropped hints Saturday, as Giants pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training, that he’s especially
motivated to excel this year.
Go ahead and say that Cain’s gearing up for free agency. Imagine that Cain is following the example of others who either adjust their training routine or broaden the repertoire of their skills to bring something fresh to the new season. Whether it’s one factor or the other, or both, Cain appears bent on improving upon his 2011 season, which happened to be the finest of his career in many respects.
“Every year, as an athlete or player, I want to find ways to keep getting better,” said Cain, the longest-tenured Giant who’s entering his seventh full season with the club.
Cain, 27, took steps toward accomplishing that by intensifying his physical conditioning — specifically, his weight
training. By November, Cain was hitting the gym hard. And he didn’t let up.
“I definitely tried to get in a better routine earlier and make sure I was taking care of everything I needed to take care of,” said Cain, who finished 12-11 last year with lifetime bests in ERA (2.88), WHIP (1.083) and home runs allowed per nine innings (a microscopic 0.4). “… In years past I think I might have been a little more relaxed about staying on that schedule.”
Cain, who said that talks are ongoing between his agents and the Giants, sounded a trifle more intent than he did two weeks ago at FanFest about negotiating a contract extension before the April 6 regular-season opener — or, if a deal can’t be made, plunging into free agency. Negotiating during the season didn’t sound too appealing to him.
“I think we’d all like to have something resolved by the end of Spring Training,” Cain said. “I don’t think either side wants that to linger into the season. I think once the season starts, we all want to be worrying about playing well.”
Cain might have subtly learned a thing or two about focus last weekend while golfing in a foursome with 49ers coach
Jim Harbaugh at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
“I thought I was intense. That guy is intense,” Cain said. “But he’s great. We just talked about little things here and there. We didn’t really go into any of the football stuff. It was fun just being able to walk three rounds with him and talk about whatever. Just to be able to get to know someone in another sport is pretty cool.”
— Chris Haft