SCOTTSDALE, AZ - MARCH 14: Matt Cain #18 of the San Francisco Giants throws a pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers during the spring training baseball game at Scottsdale Stadium on March 14, 2011 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Matt Cain
Ross, the MVP of the National League Championship Series, has been mashing the ball thus far in Cactus League play (.295/.367/.591, 3 HR, 7 RBI) but pulled up lame on Wednesday while chasing down an Alberto Callaspo fly ball in the first inning.
He left the game and his status is still MRI-dependent, but with just a week before the season opener, it's clearly not good news.
"You hate to see it at this time of the spring," manager Bruce Bochy said.
Cain, meanwhile, apparently felt a "little bit out of rhythm," and lasted just three innings, giving up seven hits and five earned runs, including a three-run jack to Bobby Abreu in the first. He did strike out three (and walk one batter) in the short outing, however.
The combination of the bad day with the recent setback suffered by closer Brian Wilson in a Wednesday throwing session equates to a pretty ominous outing for the World Series champs and, at the moment, it's perfectly reasonable to feel a little freaked out at the close proximity to Opening Day.
That being said, though, there's always a little bit of a silver lining to these things. First, it's spring training, and there's no real need to get too concerned about Cain not throwing darts just yet.
Secondly, the MRI on Ross could come back fine. Or maybe it doesn't, but even that doesn't mean it's the end of the world. There's still options to replace Ross in right field: Nate Schierholtz, who stepped in on Wednesday; Andres Torres, whose move would lessen the need to dump Aaron Rowand; and Aubrey Huff, who's currently slotted for first base.
Huff is probably the most palatable option for fans, because it would mean uber-prospect Brandon Belt could step in at first base, rather than return to the minor leagues.
But from a long-term and/or business perspective, shifting Torres and Rowand probably makes the most sense. So maybe that lining's not so silver after all.