MIAMI -- No matter how Matt Cain performs Thursday, he'll be pitching again, which is what matters most.
Cain, the Giants' three-time All-Star right-hander, will make his first regular-season appearance since July 9, 2014, when he starts the series finale against the Marlins. The 30-year-old right-hander finally has recovered sufficiently from a flexor tendon strain that sidelined him this year, which followed surgery last August to remove bone chips and spurs from his throwing elbow.
"It's been a long road, but it's going to be worth it," Cain said Wednesday. "It's definitely a lot longer road than we expected. But that's just the way it goes."
Having made multiple rehab starts in the Minor Leagues will help Cain ease back into starting. Nevertheless, there's nothing like the real thing.
"You get it taken away from you for an amount of time, whatever that time is, you definitely learn to appreciate it," Cain said, adding that he has reminded himself of one basic truth: "It's supposed to be fun."
Cain isn't the only starter making a comeback Thursday. Miami right-hander Jose Fernandez, the 2013 National League Rookie of the Year who underwent Tommy John surgery, also will make his season debut.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.