SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The Giants are one game from heading home, and they might do so with the World Series MVP back in the lineup.
Manager Bruce Bochy said third baseman Pablo Sandoval showed improvement Tuesday and no longer feels pain in his right elbow after a bout of ulnar neuritis, or nerve inflammation. Sandoval is scheduled to go through a light workout today and could resume throwing.
"From two days ago, we're a lot more optimistic about the possibility of him going Opening Day," Bochy said, looking ahead to Monday's game against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
Sandoval hasn't played since March 16 and has had multiple tests on his right elbow to determine the extent of the damage. Bochy believes Sandoval could get back on the field when the Giants face the A's in a three-game exhibition series starting Thursday at AT&T Park.
Meanwhile, right-hander Chad Gaudin had his contract purchased and was added as the final piece to the bullpen.
Gaudin will be the long man and a swing man of sorts, capable of pitching several innings at a time or even spot-starting.
This is the third straight year Gaudin has had to fight for a roster spot, so he said he came into camp "prepared for anything."
"I came in with the attitude to stick within the process and control what I can control," he said. "That put my mind at ease and allowed me to go get outs. I was privileged to have this opportunity and wanted to take advantage of it."
This spring, Gaudin has a 2.81 ERA in nine appearances, including two starts. In 10 major-league seasons, including four with the A's, he is 40-42 with a 4.63 ERA.
Cain quietly prepares – Matt Cain didn't exactly have the backing of an Opening Day lineup when he took the mound Tuesday morning for his final tuneup before the season opener.
On a back field at Scottsdale Stadium, Bochy (first base), coaches Tim Flannery (second base) and Billy Hayes (third base) and instructor Shawon Dunston (shortstop) constituted the infield in a simulated game. For Cain's sixth and final inning, the outfield alignment was the not-so-golden trio of Madison Bumgarner (left field), Barry Zito (center field) and Tim Lincecum (right field).
"This is a Hall of Fame game," Cain yelled between innings. "More like the Hall of Shame!"
Despite the laid-back atmosphere, Cain said he won't have any trouble turning the dial for the first Opening Day assignment of his nine-year career. In fact, he thinks the quiet simulated game – chosen instead of a matchup with the San Diego Padres – helped him get focused.
"It's tougher because you have to play the game in your mind," Cain said. "That's almost harder. That's good mental preparation."
Cain threw 96 pitches against minor leaguers and worked at length on throwing pitches low and away to right-handers.
The Giants beat the Padres 4-2 in the Cactus League game. Hunter Pence hit a tiebreaking two-run double in the fifth inning, and Brandon Belt had three hits to lift his spring average to .453.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.