Cain looks smooth, feels good in first bullpen session

Giants right-hander reports more effortless throwing in return from surgery

Cain looks smooth, feels good in first bullpen session

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Friday was right-hander Matt Cain's turn to generate the optimism that typifies Spring Training as he threw impressively off a bullpen mound.

"This is probably the best my arm strength has felt, shoulder-wise and everything," Cain said. "Everything just feels really good."

Cain, who underwent elbow surgery last August for removal of bone chips and spurs from his throwing arm, mixed fastballs, changeups and curveballs during his 40-pitch stint. He rested about midway through his outing and appeared to throw even more freely when he returned.

"It seemed like it was coming out a little bit harder," agreed Buster Posey, who caught Cain. "It was a nice, smooth thing."

Posey observed that Cain never grimaced -- a pained expression that often crossed the three-time All-Star's face last year as he unleashed a pitch.

"I think the main thing I noticed was it just seemed much more effortless than last year," Posey said of Cain's workout.

Due to his injury, Cain might not develop into game-ready shape as quickly as other pitchers. But he's still expected to be in the season-opening starting rotation.

"The ball definitely feels like it's coming out a lot easier," Cain said. "I feel like I'm not going to have to muscle the ball down to the plate or search for everything."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.