Cain tabbed to start for NL in All-Star Game

Cain tabbed to start for NL in All-Star Game

Cain tabbed to start for NL in All-Star Game
KANSAS CITY -- Matt Cain's days as an afterthought, subordinate or complement have appeared numbered as time has passed. On Monday, they officially ended.

Cain continued his journey from the shadows to the spotlight, as the Giants' right-hander was named to start for the National League in Tuesday's All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.

NL manager Tony La Russa bypassed Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (12-1, 2.40 ERA, 0.93 WHIP) for Cain (9-3, 2.62, 0.96 WHIP). La Russa's decision was partly based on the opportunity to pair Cain with teammate Buster Posey, who was elected to start at catcher and has no experience handling a knuckleball.

Cain was informed of his starting assignment on Sunday night when he checked into his hotel along with Posey.

"We were kind of pumped yesterday," Cain said. "I was texting him last night -- 'Seriously, dude? We're starting in the All-Star Game?' This is a cool honor."

The Giants' four-man starting contingent is the franchise's largest since the All-Star Game's inception in 1933. Cain, 27, will become the sixth Giants pitcher to start an All-Star Game since the team moved to San Francisco in 1958. He'll join Juan Marichal (1965, '67), Vida Blue ('78), Rick Reuschel ('89), Jason Schmidt (2003) and Tim Lincecum ('09).

Though this is Cain's third All-Star selection, he never has appeared in the Midsummer Classic. Cain sustained a bruise when a line drive struck him on his throwing elbow during the weekend before the 2009 game. Last year, he pitched on the Sunday preceding the game, rendering him ineligible to participate.

This time, he'll pitch on his normal four days' rest as he finally faces the American League's elite.

"Those two [All-Star Games] were relaxing. Now this is going to be nerve-wracking," Cain said. "That's all right. I'm excited about that."

Cain took a major step toward securing his All-Star start on June 13, when he pitched a perfect game against the Astros, a 14-strikeout performance that gained national attention.

American League lineup
Player, Team Bats Pos.
1. Derek Jeter, NYY R SS
2. Robinson Cano, NYY L 2B
3. Josh Hamilton, TEX L LF
4. Jose Bautista, TOR R RF
5. Prince Fielder, DET L 1B
6. Adrian Beltre, TEX R 3B
7. David Ortiz, BOS L DH
8. Mike Napoli, TEX R C
9. Curtis Granderson, NYY L CF
Justin Verlander, DET R P

"Matty has gone under the radar for too long," said Washington Nationals utility man Mark DeRosa, a former Giant. "I think the whole world's figuring out how dominating he is. He's a bulldog, you know? You can give the ball to him in a big spot any time."

Said Giants manager Bruce Bochy: "I'm excited for Matt. Particularly with the bad luck he's had, with not being available to pitch in the game. It's a very deserving and great honor for him. We are all so proud of him."

Cain's All-Star experiences parallel his career path. Though Cain commanded immediate respect from peers once he reached the Major Leagues in August of 2005, he has remained almost perpetually obscured by various circumstances.

Poor run support has muted his success. Though he appears bound for his fourth consecutive winning season, his career record stands at 78-76.

National League lineup
Player, Team Bats Pos.
1. Carlos Gonzalez, COL L DH
2. Melky Cabrera, SF S CF
3. Ryan Braun, MIL R LF
4. Joey Votto, CIN L 1B
5. Carlos Beltran, STL S RF
6. Buster Posey, SF R C
7. Pablo Sandoval, SF S 3B
8. Dan Uggla, ATL R 2B
9. Rafael Furcal, STL S SS
Matt Cain, SF R P

The lack of runs accounted for Cain's 15-30 record in 2007-08. During that span, Lincecum joined the Giants, capturing the imagination of the public and media with skills that dwarfed his size and winning his first of two NL Cy Young Awards. Lincecum has endured a season-long slump, but even as this year began, Cain still was widely regarded as No. 1A on the Giants' pecking order behind Lincecum.

Cain pitched 21 1/3 postseason innings in 2010 without yielding an earned run. But Lincecum won the first game in each postseason series, along with the Game 5 World Series clincher.

Cain was overshadowed even as an amateur. In early March of 2002, Giants scout Lee Elder intended to see Houston High School's ace pitcher. But that youth had the flu, so Cain, the team's No. 2 starter, pitched instead. Elder was stunned by what he witnessed.

"He wasn't overpowering," Elder said, recalling that Cain threw his fastball at approximately 88-89 mph. "But his arm -- I'm telling you, that was the quickest arm I'd seen."

Somewhat remarkably, Elder was the only scout attending the game. He excitedly telephoned Giants player personnel director Dick Tidrow. "I said, 'Dick, I'm watching the quickest arm I've ever seen and there's nobody here except me.' He said, 'Oh, wow, don't tell anybody.' That was how I stumbled onto Matt."

Cain admitted that he'll be tempted to increase his velocity in his first All-Star action since Little League.

"You know you're going out there to throw one or two innings," said Cain, who has relieved once in 221 career Major League outings and has never missed a start due to injury. "So you're kind of thinking, 'I can kind of let it go.' You have to find a way to kind of tone it down and not try to do too much."

In La Russa's estimation, Cain has done plenty.

"We want to reward Matt Cain for a career of excellence," La Russa said. "It's getting better and better."

The 83rd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. Pregame ceremonies begin at 7:30 p.m. ET/6:30 CT. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.

Fans will also have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the 2012 All-Star Game MVP Vote during the All-Star Game on

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