03/26/2013 7:36 PM ET
Cain finds focus in relaxed simulated game
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- That was one heck of a lineup backing up Matt Cain in his simulated game Tuesday morning.
Manager Bruce Bochy anchored first base, third-base coach Tim Flannery was at second base, instructor Shawon Dunston roamed his old shortstop position and bullpen catcher Billy Hayes played third. The outfield, from left to right, consisted of Madison Bumgarner, Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum.
Bochy said that the formation of the "team" was somewhat impromptu.
"We wanted to make it a little more realistic," Bochy said.
Dunston performed as if it were a real game. He dove for a grounder up the middle, deflected the ball and proclaimed as he scrambled back to his feet, "That would have been a [routine play] 25 years ago." Dunston also charged a slow grounder and flipped a short throw to first, where Bochy made a clean short-hop pickup.
"He gets the Gold Glove," Cain said.
The pitcher/outfielders knew better than to strain their valuable arms. Bumgarner made a right-handed toss; Lincecum winged in a left-handed throw that was meant for home plate but skipped toward the pitcher's mound.
It felt like a neighborhood softball game, but the purpose of the exercise was serious -- to help Cain prepare for his Opening Day start April 1 at Los Angeles. Facing Minor Leaguers Todd Linden, Jackson Williams, Juan Ciriaco and Ryan Lollis, Cain threw 93 pitches over the equivalent of six innings.
Cain insisted that he maintained his focus despite the somewhat goofy atmosphere. He said that even a more conventional simulated game would have forced him to summon his own mental discipline. Either way, he pointed out, he would have lacked the game conditions that make concentration automatic.
"That right there," Cain said of Tuesday's experience, "is almost harder in a way because you have to lock it in, in your own mind."
Sandoval looking more likely to play opener
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy sounded upbeat about Pablo Sandoval's troublesome right elbow, indicating Tuesday that the switch-hitting third baseman's chances of playing in Monday's season opener at Los Angeles had improved.
Bochy said that Sandoval might try "light work" Wednesday -- either hitting off a tee or playing light catch, or possibly both activities.
"There's progress," Bochy said of Sandoval, who hasn't played since March 16 while dealing with an irritated nerve in his elbow. "... I will say we're a lot more optimistic than we were two days ago about him going on Opening Day."
Backup catcher Hector Sanchez, who has been bothered by right shoulder soreness through much of Spring Training, also moved closer to full health by catching Matt Cain's simulated game. Sanchez unleashed several throws to second base from behind the plate. Some went awry, but a few were accurate.
"He showed a lot of arm strength," Bochy said in approval.
Veteran Gaudin claims roster spot with Giants
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Chad Gaudin gained plenty of wisdom while pitching for eight Major League teams in a 10-season span. That savvy helped him join team No. 9.
Gaudin made the Giants' Opening Day squad Tuesday as the club purchased his contract and added him to the 40-man roster. The right-hander thus won the competition for a bullpen role that included as many as eight other pitchers -- including fellow veteran Scott Proctor, who remained on the spring roster but appeared bound for Triple-A Fresno.
Gaudin survived by focusing on his own performance instead of monitoring the efforts of others.
"I came in with the attitude that if I stick within my process, control what I can control [and] if you prepare yourself mentally and physically for anything that happens, nothing surprises you," said Gaudin, 30. "I was privileged to have this opportunity and I wanted to take advantage of it."
Having started 75 games in 314 Major League appearances for the Rays, Blue Jays, A's, Cubs, Padres, Yankees, Nationals and Marlins since 2003, Gaudin can function as a spot starter or long reliever, providing the versatility that manager Bruce Bochy appreciates.
Gaudin, 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA in nine games this spring, already has noticed a difference between the Giants and other clubs.
"The biggest thing here is team first," Gaudin said. "That's awesome. That's a great thing to be a part of. Everybody pulls together. That's what I've seen throughout this whole spring."
In another move, the Giants lost right-hander Dan Otero, who was claimed off waivers by the Yankees. Otero made last year's Opening Day roster and posted no record with a 5.84 ERA in 12 games spanning three stints with San Francisco. This spring, Otero was 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in eight appearances. He was optioned to Triple-A Fresno on March 15.
Bond wins Giants' spring newcomer award
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Despite being reassigned to Minor League camp on March 15, Giants infielder Brock Bond left a lasting impression.
The non-roster invitee won the team's Harry S. Jordan Award, given annually to the player in his first big league Spring Training camp who distinguishes himself the most with his performance and dedication. Bond, 27, was selected Tuesday in a vote among teammates, coaches and the athletic training staff.
Bond, 27, hit .435 (10-for-23) with two doubles, two home runs and six RBIs in 13 Cactus League games. Last year he hit .332 with a .422 on-base percentage for Triple-A Fresno.
The Harry S. Jordan Award is named in honor of a former longtime Minor League athletic trainer for the Giants. Previous winners of the award include Russ Ortiz (1998), Pedro Feliz (2001), Tim Lincecum (2007) and Brandon Belt (2011).
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.