Mailbag: Can Cain reach expectations?

Mailbag: Is Cain able to reach expectations?

Do you think Matt Cain has a shot at 15-20 wins this year? He seems to be a terrific pitcher, but do you think he can hold it all together in what is officially his rookie year?
-- Daniel R., San Francisco

Cain definitely could reach the 15-win mark ... but no pressure, Matt. Manager Felipe Alou calls the 21-year-old pitcher "the real deal -- a special phenom. He's a fearless guy with tremendous stuff, with tremendous [poise] at such a tender age." The kid is solidly built, has strong legs, good mechanics and is a smart guy who is able to adjust. Imagine last season, when he baffled batters with his fastball, a pitch most veterans can kill. Cain will be fun to watch.

Will fans be able to see the team work out at Scottsdale Stadium when pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 15? There's a private parking lot for players with a tunnel leading to the clubhouse -- can we get autographs there?
-- Hank D., San Francisco

According to a Giants spokesman, it hasn't been determined whether fans can see the workouts at the stadium. They were always welcome at nearby Indian School Park, but with the new configuration at Scottsdale -- 1 1/2 fields adjacent to the facility -- the Major Leaguers can stay "home" and not be bused to the practice area. Previously, players usually had to pass by fans at the old south entrance to Scottsdale Stadium, and most were happy to sign. A new fenced-in lot may make that more difficult.

Although Bonds has decided not to play in the WBC, other Giants like Omar Vizquel, Pedro Feliz and Moises Alou will play. How will that affect Spring Training games? Also, with all of the other stars who will participate being on different teams, how will that affect games?
-- Mike V., Tucson, Ariz.

We'll have to wait and see. Getting players ready for the regular season is the purpose of Spring Training, but you'd figure most WBC participants have been exercising to prepare for the tournament. With some vets missing from Cactus League competition, that will help young players showcase their skills. Being the first tourney, there are a lot of unknowns, but wearing a country's uniform is a big deal and not just fun and games.

I'm sure managers are fearful that stars and promising players will be hurt in the WBC, going all-out to win, but there are precautions, including careful monitoring of pitch counts and days between appearances, plus restrictions on the number of players participating from each Major League club. It's a great idea -- let's hope it's successful.

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The Giants have had great difficulty developing young position players. Why? Don't you think that young players help a team, especially down the stretch? A lot of winning teams have successfully incorporated a mix of veterans and youngsters.
-- Jonathan K., Oakland

That no longer is true. In the past, the Giants focused on developing young pitchers, while position players were usually acquired through trades or free agency. Pitching has always been a priority for GM Brian Sabean. But now there's a promising group starring in the Minors: Eddy Martinez-Esteve, Kevin Frandsen, Travis Ishikawa, Nate Schierholtz, Mike Cervenak, Dan Ortmeier, Brian Horwitz and Clay Timpner.

Isn't it a bit much to ask Jose Vizcaino to back up at second base, shortstop and third base? Backing up three positions seems like a lot to ask of someone his age. Are there plans to keep another infielder on the roster?
-- Harry B., San Francisco

There are few openings on the roster, but expect Angel Chavez and Kevin Frandsen to be among candidates for a bench role. Chavez, by the way, has decided not to play for his native Panama in the World Baseball Classic and will report early to Spring Training to improve his chances of making the team.

Rich Draper is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.