Giants right-hander Matt Cain threw a 35-pitch bullpen session Saturday morning and later said he still hopes to have enough time to get ready to make his first scheduled start of the regular season.
Cain is recovering from Feb. 25 surgery to remove a cyst on his right arm. His first turn in the rotation this season would come April 8 at home against the Dodgers.
“I think we’re going to cross that road when we get to it,” Cain said. “If everything is going on schedule and I can get my pitch count up and be comfortable with it, I think I can be fine for that fifth spot. But I don’t think we can say that right now.
“If we miss one (start) to be able to go the rest of the season and not have to worry about anything again, that’s what we have to do. That’s the biggest thing, is to try to find a way to make this where we don’t have to worry about it again.”
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Cain has thrown two bullpen sessions since having the stitches removed from his surgery but has yet to face hitters. The normal progression is for pitchers to face hitters in live batting practice at least once and often twice before appearing in a game. Cain would still need at least several game outings to build up his pitch count.
Manager Bruce Bochy said he already has told Cain that the Giants “don’t want to get into rush mode” in getting him ready for the season. Likely factoring into that is the fact that Cain has made just 28 starts over the past two seasons because of injuries, though he’s thought to be healthy now.
Still, Bochy said “there is a possibility” of Cain starting the season in the rotation, reiterating that Cain came into camp “in great shape” before the cyst issue.
Should the Giants need to skip Cain’s first turn, Bochy previously has said they will have Chris Heston ready as a backup option.
Cain said his bullpen session Saturday “went good” and that he is throwing all his pitches but he did not know when he would throw next or in what setting.
“We just need to see how this thing bounces back tomorrow and kind of go from there,” he said.
Spring steps – It was a busy Saturday for Giants pitchers playing catch-up this spring. Reliever Sergio Romo faced hitters in live batting practice, throwing about 30 pitches, and will likely appear in his first game in two or three days, Bochy said.
Closer Santiago Casilla made his spring training debut in the Giants’ 9-5 home loss to the Diamondbacks and pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a single with two strikeouts. Casilla came down with the flu early in camp and said he was sick for a week.
“Every year in Arizona,” he said, shaking his head. “I don’t know why.”
Casilla surprised everyone by throwing a curveball on his first pitch of the spring, then finished his final hitter, Chris Owings, with a full-count curveball for a called third strike.
“He’s trying to pitch a little more this year,” Bochy said.
Bright side – Minor-league left-hander Ty Blach started in the loss against the Diamondbacks, giving up five runs in three innings. He did retire slugger Paul Goldschmidt twice and said that was satisfying, given Goldschmidt recorded two hits off him in a spring game last year.
The Giants also lost their split-squad road game 9-5 to the Angels in Tempe, Ariz. Jake Peavy started that contest and allowed three runs in four innings but felt he pitched well outside of a mistake slider that Albert Pujols smacked for a two-run homer.