The San Francisco Giants announced this morning that Matt Cain had a cyst removed from his right arm and will resume baseball activities in ten days.
Matt Cain had a cyst removed from his right upper arm. He will start therapy in AZ & is expected to return to throwing in 10 days. #SFGiants
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) February 25, 2016
Andrew Baggarly reported that the procedure was done this morning by team doctors.
Cain had a cyst removed today from his R upper arm in SF by team physician Dr Ken Akizuki.
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) February 25, 2016
For any other pitcher in the Giants rotation, this would be looked at as a minor setback, but Cain has had setbacks for the last three seasons. From the All-Star break in 2013 through the end of last season, Cain’s right arm has been evaluated and surgically repaired several times and now his spot in the rotation may be in jeopardy.
Cain has already been penciled into the number-five spot in the rotation, but with Chris Heston still on the roster, it is likely that Cain won’t be rushed back. Heston started 31 games last season and was one of the team’s most reliable pitchers the first half of the season, including a no-hitter versus the eventual National League champion New York Mets. Heston did struggle after the All-Star break, but his experience last year should make it a fairly simple decision for manager Bruce Bochy if the team decides to start the season with Cain on the disabled list.
When the Giants won the World Series in 2012, Cain was their ace. He was the starting pitcher for every clinching game that postseason, started the All-Star game in July, and threw a perfect game. It was his most successful season professionally, as he went 16-5 with a 2.79 ERA and 1.040 WHIP.
Cain had established himself as one of the game’s top pitchers and his first seven full seasons for the Giants were as good as the organization had seen since Hall of Famer Juan Marichal pitched. For more on Cain’s impressive start to his career, you can read about it here.
It was identified several years ago that Cain had bone chips in his elbow that might someday need to be removed. Cain continued to pitch season after season with the problem and excelled. The 2013 season was the first time his elbow seemed to be a problem, and it’s a problem Cain and the Giants have battled ever since.
On paper, the Giants are loaded with inning-eaters in their rotation and Cain has always prided himself on taking the ball every fifth day and giving his team a chance to win. Sometimes the strongest compliment you can give any pitcher is that he puts his team in a position to win every time out. For two and a half years years, Cain has struggled to do that with the consistency he showed from 2005-2012.
Now, in 2016, it’s hard to be confident that his consistency will be able to return. This latest setback may only be for 10 days, but it has been much longer since Cain has been able to be the team’s most reliable pitcher.