Notes: Cain shines in spring debut
Denker opening eyes; Flannery not fond of new helmet rule
MESA, Ariz. -- The Giants restored order Sunday, at least at the outset of their 8-6 exhibition victory over the Chicago Cubs.And, as is typically the case, the starting pitcher made the difference -- in this case, Matt Cain. One day after the Giants endured a horrific 23-5 loss to Oakland, Cain set them on the right course by allowing two hits in three shutout innings in his first Cactus League game. The right-hander concluded his effort by whipping a fastball past Kosuke Fukudome for a called third strike with two runners on base. "Ugh," Cain said when reminded about Saturday. "It's nice to see the guys didn't carry it over into today." Cain had a good feeling about the afternoon before the game began. Striding onto the field with the rest of the Giants through a gate near the right-field corner, Cain felt his competitive flame rising as he realized that he was about to resume playing baseball. "It was back to what it was. You forget that feeling," said Cain, who made his first career appearance at HoHoKam Park. "It felt cool to walk into the stadium and [think], 'Hey, I'm playing today,' not 'Oh, I'm going to practice again.'" Cain threw 25 strikes in 39 pitches despite experiencing less-than-optimal conditions. "Today was super-windy," he said. "I don't know if [Cubs starter Ted] Lilly was having a little bit of the same thing. The balls were really slick. But that comes with Arizona." Denker impresses: The eventual winning runs were produced by Travis Denker, who clobbered a two-run, seventh-inning homer off Shingo Takatsu. In three games, Denker's bating .444 (4-for-9) with an .889 slugging percentage, tops among players in Major League camp. Another of the infielders handling multiple positions, Denker, who plays second and third, was acquired last Aug. 26 from the Dodgers in the Mark Sweeney trade. Denker, 22, has never played above Class A, but his bat looks more advanced. "He flat-out hits," Cain said. "So far, I've seen him always get hits or hit the ball hard."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.