LOS ANGELES – For a player shaking off two weeks of rust and drawing Clayton Kershaw as an Opening Day test, Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval acquitted himself admirably Monday.
Sandoval had two of the Giants' four hits off Kershaw in their 4-0 loss to the Dodgers, singling in the first and seventh innings. Aside from two at-bats in an exhibition game Friday – both of which he took left-handed – they were Sandoval's first at-bats in a game since he injured his right elbow March 16.
"Lucky," Sandoval said, grinning. He then said that although he was concentrating the past few weeks on being healthy for Opening Day, he felt his timing was still there from winter ball and the World Baseball Classic.
Sandoval said his elbow no longer bothers him. He appeared to shake the arm after several throws Monday, including one he one-hopped to first after charging a Matt Kemp grounder. But Sandoval attributed that to the layoff.
"I have to get the rhythm again to throw to the base," he said.
Sandoval was cleared to play after hitting and throwing at AT&T Park on Sunday with no problems. Manager Bruce Bochy said the Giants will monitor Sandoval this week, and his availability could be day-to-day.
Hitting left-handed had bothered Sandoval the most, but he said he would have faced a right-hander Monday if one had entered.
"I'm going to hit," Sandoval said. "I don't come out of the game."
Hard luck – After allowing three runners in the first inning of his first Opening Day start, Matt Cain settled down to allow just three more over his final five innings.
Cain said he was "out of whack" to start the game, but striking out Kemp in an 11-pitch at-bat for the first out helped him "figure a little bit of what I wanted to do."
Cain made some of his best pitches in pressure situations. He stranded two runners in the fourth by retiring Luis Cruz and A.J. Ellis on infield pop-ups and erased Mark Ellis' leadoff double in the sixth, striking out Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier looking.
"He had gone far enough his first outing," Bochy said of Cain, who threw 93 pitches. "He did his job. It's a long season. You look at the big picture."
Cain said he enjoyed his first Opening Day start.
"You always kind of wonder what it feels like to do it," he said. "There's a lot of hype going on with it, and a little bit of over-reporting probably, but that's the fun part of it."
Et cetera – Andres Torres started in left field over Gregor Blanco against Kershaw and likely will get the call today with the Dodgers throwing another left-hander, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Bochy said. Blanco likely will start Wednesday against right-hander Josh Beckett.
With the afternoon opener followed by two night games and a day off Thursday, Posey likely will catch all three games of the series.
Dodgers Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax threw out the first pitch. Dodgers owner Magic Johnson appeared to be doing the honors, but manager Don Mattingly made a ceremonial pitching change, and Koufax walked out of the home dugout to a loud ovation.