GLENDALE, Ariz. — Spring training often brings bold proclamations from players who feel they can better their output from the previous season. Matt Cain knows there's no way for him to make any predictions and sound rational.
The right-hander is coming off a banner year that included a championship, All-Star Game start and the first perfect game in franchise history.
"Yeah, a lot of things went really, really well last year," Cain said, smiling. "If you're trying to sit there and repeat all of that, it's just asking for a lot. Do you want to do it? Yeah. But realistically, I don't think you can be mad if you come up short."
Cain, who threw three innings in Monday's 6-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox, has set a simpler goal for the 2013 season, his ninth in orange and black.
"I want to make all the starts," he said. "I want to throw as many innings or more than I did the year before."
Even that, hardly the boldest of goals, may be hard to pull off. Including the postseason, Cain threw 249 1/3 innings last year, the most by a Giants pitcher since 1978. If he can throw 200 regular-season innings again, Cain would be the first Giant with seven straight 200-inning seasons since Juan Marichal's streak of 10 straight.
Despite the heavy workload, Cain, who has transformed his body over the course of his career, said he didn't feel the need for extra rest this offseason. The routine was the same as always, even if started a bit later than usual because of the postseason.
"It definitely went by quick," Cain said of his offseason. "All of a sudden you turn around and you're working out again, but you're prepared for it."
Cain knows there isn't much that he can do to top last season's haul, but there is one honor that he'll tick off this season for the first time. Cain has already been named the opening day starter, which made Monday's outing against the White Sox a strange one. Because Ryan Vogelsong is on a strict schedule to prepare for the World Baseball Classic, Cain was brought out of the bullpen for the first time since 2006. He gave up three hits and two runs in the fifth inning, his first of the day.
"I'm glad we let him start in the playoffs and didn't bring him out of the bullpen," manager Bruce Bochy joked.
VOGELSON OFF TO THE WBC
Vogelsong was charged with three earned runs in three-plus innings in his final appearance before joining Team USA, but all the damage was done in one frame. Vogelsong cruised through the first three innings, striking out three. The White Sox broke through in the fourth as Vogelsong approached his pitch count.
Vogelsong said he felt great physically, and Bochy was pleased that the right-hander was able to reach the requisite 60 pitches before leaving camp.
"He felt fine," Bochy said, "And that makes you feel more comfortable with him leaving."
Vogelsong said he lost his tempo out of the stretch in the lengthy fourth inning, and he also wishes he was a bit sharper mentally on the mound. But he thinks he'll be ready to rock when he takes the ball on Saturday against Italy.