SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Barry Zito's receiving another opportunity to get it right the first time. Manager Bruce Bochy named Zito the starting pitcher for the March 31 regular-season opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Matt Cain will pitch the second game, with the rest of the rotation to be determined. The subject of the Giants' No. 1 starter had prompted some debate. Zito endured his worst professional season in his first year with the Giants (11-13, 4.53 ERA), but finished with a 3-2 record and a 3.10 ERA in his last nine starts. Cain posted a dreadful 7-16 mark due mostly to pathetic run support, as his 3.65 ERA demonstrated.
"This is something he has earned, the way he pitched at the end of the season," Bochy said Thursday, referring to Zito. "He's accustomed to it. It makes sense to send him out there on Opening Day again." Zito, who's 0-3 with a 9.49 ERA in three previous Opening Day starts, said last Saturday at the KNBR/Giants FanFest that he didn't care whether he'd earn the assignment. Once it was his, however, he cherished it. "It's a great honor. It's nothing I take for granted," said Zito, who lasted five innings and allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits in a 7-0 loss to San Diego on Opening Day '07. "Last year was a tough year for me, but I'm appreciative that they're giving me a chance to be the No. 1 guy and start the year off on the right foot. On a personal level, it gives me a chance for some redemption for not doing what I wanted to do last Opening Day and also the first half and a little bit more of the season." Bochy acknowledged that sparing the 23-year-old Cain from dwelling for a month and a half on the responsibility of pitching the opener was a factor in the decision to select Zito instead of him. Looking good: A pair of left-handers, Jonathan Sanchez and Jose Capellan, caught Bochy's eye as half of the pitchers in camp threw off bullpen mounds for 10 minutes. The Giants are trying to settle on a role for the talented Sanchez, who's competing with Kevin Correia for the fifth starter's spot but has thrived previously in the bullpen. "I thought he was really consistent with his [arm] slot," Bochy said. Capellan, a Rule 5 Draft selection, looked sharp as he displayed roughly a three-quarters delivery. "He's got some deception," Bochy said. Capellan also has a lot more size than his listed dimensions of 6-foot-2, 170 pounds would indicate. The Giants' media relations department said that he's closer to 6-3, 250.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.