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Cain officially named to Giants' rotation

MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants right-hander Matt Cain was used during Spring Training like a fifth starter. He spoke as if he expected to be the team's fifth starter. Not surprisingly, Cain will be San Francisco's fifth starter to begin the 2017 season.

Manager Bruce Bochy announced Friday that he had assigned the role to Cain, 32. Rookie left-hander Ty Blach (4.22 ERA), another fifth-starter candidate, outpitched Cain (7.82 ERA) statistically. However, Cain had a considerable edge in experience as the longest-tenured Giant, having risen from the Minors in late August 2005.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants right-hander Matt Cain was used during Spring Training like a fifth starter. He spoke as if he expected to be the team's fifth starter. Not surprisingly, Cain will be San Francisco's fifth starter to begin the 2017 season.

Manager Bruce Bochy announced Friday that he had assigned the role to Cain, 32. Rookie left-hander Ty Blach (4.22 ERA), another fifth-starter candidate, outpitched Cain (7.82 ERA) statistically. However, Cain had a considerable edge in experience as the longest-tenured Giant, having risen from the Minors in late August 2005.

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Bochy was impressed with Cain's recovery from the numerous injuries that made him vulnerable to being shut out of the rotation.

"I thought that Matt handled everything well," Bochy said. "He was healthy, he threw strikes and his secondary pitches came through at the end."

Formerly the pitching staff's ace, Cain openly welcomed competition for the rotation's final spot when Spring Training began. Recently, however, he sounded as though the job belonged to him.

"That [starting] is what I'm at looking at," Cain said after a March 22 outing against Milwaukee. "That's the only thing I'm preparing for, to make sure I'm getting ready to go 100 pitches and be ready for the starting role."

Cain prepared himself by pitching five innings in that aforementioned appearance against Milwaukee, then by lasting 5 1/3 innings against the World Series champion Chicago Cubs last Tuesday in the Giants' final Arizona exhibition.

Overall this spring, Cain allowed 37 hits in 25 1/3 Cactus League innings, an unfavorable ratio. But he walked only five while striking out 19.

"I know that I'm ready to be able to throw the ball the way I need to," Cain said after facing the Cubs.

Cain reached his zenith in 2012, when he pitched a perfect game, started for the National League in the All-Star Game and won twice in the postseason. Since then, he has weathered injuries to his forearm, hamstring, index finger, elbow and lower back. He has undergone surgeries on his elbow and right ankle to remove bone spurs.

Last year, Cain was limited to 21 appearances (17 starts) and finished 4-8 with a 5.64 ERA. Due to earn $21 million this season, Cain's 16-29 with a 4.64 ERA since 2013, compared with 85-78 with a 3.27 ERA before that.

• To nobody's surprise, the Giants announced they released infielder Jimmy Rollins to allow him to "pursue other opportunities," a club spokesman said. Rollins, a three-time All-Star shortstop and 2007 NL Most Valuable Player with Philadelphia, was a non-roster invitee to Giants camp, hitting .119 (5-for-42) in 17 games (including an exhibition vs. Team Puerto Rico).

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

San Francisco Giants, Matt Cain