ANAHEIM -- After Matt Cain's perfect game last week against the Astros, the Hall of Fame took his cleats and his cap as mementos from his historic achievement. The greatest gift he had received so far was the 10-0 win.
But before his start against the Angels on Monday, his first since perfection, Japanese sporting goods maker Mizuno gave Cain one of the strangest gifts he has ever received for a baseball achievement -- a samurai sword.
A traditional Japanese honor, the sword was given to Cain for making history while wearing a Mizuno glove. The company gives the authentic gift (yes, it's sharp) to recognize the most significant athletic achievements of its ambassadors.
And in true samurai fashion, Cain bowed before holding his gift for the first time.
"I'm not sure where I can put it, but I'm going to find a special spot for it," Cain said. "I think it's really, really cool that Mizuno has presented me with this honor, and I'm very proud of it."
Mizuno has given a samurai sword to only four other Major Leaguers to honor their accomplishments. They gave it to former Braves manager Bobby Cox upon his retirement in 2010, Athletics pitcher Dallas Braden for his perfect game in 2010, Zack Greinke for winning the American League Cy Young Award in 2009 and Chipper Jones for winning the National League batting title in 2008.
Obviously, being presented with a sword isn't something Cain has to deal with before a normal start. But at 3:30 p.m. PT when he received it, he would just be relaxing anyway, so his routine didn't have to be changed to get a weapon before his start.
"This is normal. Just hanging out is something that I'd be doing anyway before the game," Cain said. "Still right now is kind of a relaxing time. I get into my normal routine in just a little while."