SAN FRANCISCO -- Though Matt Cain is among the leading candidates to start the July 10 All-Star Game in Kansas City, the Giants right-hander handled the subject cautiously."You have to be on the team first," Cain said. It's virtually certain that Cain will be chosen as a National League All-Star. He entered Wednesday ranked among the league's statistical leaders in almost every major pitching category, including ERA (seventh, 2.27), innings (second, 107), strikeouts (third, 107), opponents' batting average (fourth, .195), wins (tied for fifth, nine) and WHIP (walks and hits per inning -- first, 0.90). And, of course, Cain threw the 22nd perfect game in Major League history against the Houston Astros on June 13. He acknowledged that starting the All-Star Game would be an honor. "I think that would be cool for anybody," said Cain, who was selected for but did not appear in the 2009 and 2011 Midsummer Classics. "That's something you always hope you have the opportunity to do." Significantly, Cain will have four days' rest on the day of the All-Star Game if the Giants remain in their current rotation through the end of the first half, so he would be eligible and fit to perform. Tim Lincecum was the last Giants pitcher to start an All-Star Game, receiving the assignment in 2009 at St. Louis.
Giants encouraged by Casilla's bounce-back effort
SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he had his eye on Santiago Casilla in Tuesday's 2-0 win against the Dodgers, and the closer responded with a scoreless ninth inning for his 21st save of the season.
The outing was Casilla's first since allowing Derek Norris' walk-off two-run home run in Sunday's 4-2 loss to the A's.
"He's tough a guy and he's been through rough outings," Bochy said before Wednesday's series finale. "He can handle it, and I'm not surprised to see him get it done."
Having pitched four of the last five days, Casilla wasn't available for Wednesday's game, Bochy said.
After Casilla gave up two hits in the ninth inning of Sunday's game, Bochy visited the mound to check on his closer, whom he had pulled in the ninth inning the previous game. After staying in the game, Casilla threw six straight fastballs to Norris after starting the at-bat with a curveball in the dirt.
"I went out there myself to look at him in the eye and talk to him a little bit," Bochy said. "I liked his answer and he came back and struck out the next guy on three pitches. On the next series, he went to the well one too many times. In the moment, he looked like he just reached back and let it go instead of methodically thinking of where to put the ball. He was just going to bull his way through."
In the Giants' 9-8 win against the A's on Saturday, Bochy pulled Casilla after he gave up a run on two hits and a walk, leaving the game without registering an out.
"In the game I pulled him, I watched him throw the secondary pitches and he was overthrowing," Bochy said. "He couldn't get them over, and in my mind, he was off. I think part of it was Oakland, being a little hyped up, but he wasn't even close on a couple breaking balls."
Bochy said Casilla understood being pulled, but the skipper is still conscious of supporting the team's closer.
"I have to do what I think is best for the club," Bochy said. "Sure, you're sensitive to that, and you want him to have confidence in him. The times I have pulled him, I bring him in and tell him and say, 'Things weren't right, I made the call.' It's important that they know that they're the guy and you're behind him."
Bochy said Casilla doesn't have the leeway of predecessor Brian Wilson, whom Casilla replaced after the three-time All-Star closer's Tommy John surgery in April.
"A lot of things are earned in this game, and Wilson, sure he kept you on the edge of your seat, but he found a way to get it done," Bochy said.
F. Sanchez 'not close' to rehab stint for Giants
SAN FRANCISCO -- Freddy Sanchez still remains a ways away from going on a rehab assignment and rejoining the Giants, manager Bruce Bochy said before Wednesday's game against the Dodgers.
"I'll be honest, he's been off the radar a little bit because he's not close," Bochy said. "It's nothing against Freddy, just that when he gets closer to being able to go to rehab, then you'll start paying a little more attention."
It has been more than a year since Sanchez went down with a dislocated right shoulder while diving for a ground ball against the Reds on June 10, 2011. Despite several setbacks in Sanchez's recovery, Bochy and the Giants remain optimistic that the second baseman will return to the team this season.
"I will say this, though: We haven't lost hope in him coming back," Bochy said. "He certainly has exceeded the time we thought he would take. The only thing you do is continue to do what we've been doing: working out, trying to get back in shape. When he gets closer, we'll keep an eye on him."