"I've underperformed the last year and a half," Cain said. "That's something I don't want to do again."
He might not have to. Cain was mostly upbeat about his recoveries from right elbow surgery, which limited him to 15 starts last year, and a minor procedure on his right ankle. He was especially pleased with his elbow, the site of multiple chips and spurs, which somehow rarely bothered him during his professional career -- until last season.
Cain, who planned to throw 30 pitches Friday at about 60 to 70 percent of his usual effort, considered his situation a "new beginning."
Said the right-hander, "I have the same the range of motion that I had as a kid when I signed with these guys when I was 17."
That bodes well for the Giants, whose starting rotation is suddenly old. Tim Hudson is 39. Jake Peavy is 33. Ryan Vogelsong, who will step in if a starter falls prey to injuries or ineffectiveness, is 37.
At 30, Cain still can provide the spark of youth, relatively speaking. Catcher Buster Posey, recalling his injury-plagued 2011 campaign, considered the drudgery Cain must have endured.
"You're just excited to be able to contribute," Posey said.
Cain has begun throwing off a mound and expects to be nearly able to participate fully in drills when Spring Training starts.
"That's the longest time I've ever gone without throwing," said Cain, who underwent his elbow surgery in August. "It was a little bit different."
Cain believes that his stuff won't be different when he resumes throwing regularly. Repeating his delivery, a must for any pitcher seeking consistency, will be his top priority.
"Velocity," he said, "is not going to be an issue."