Explore San Francisco

The 112.5-Million-Dollar Man

Matt Cain is wearing shower sandals, a loose-fitting tee and athletic shorts, sitting on a leather couch in a nondescript waiting room in the catacombs of AT&T Park. His beard, if you can even call it that, is scruffy at best as he rubs it, sighing at the fact that it has gotten this long. It's clear he likes to laugh, even clearer that he loves to talk about his daughter, and maybe a little surprising that, in one of the nation's most cliche-ridden sports, he isn't afraid to bluntly tell you that Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier has his number.

Q: You've been with the Giants since 2005. In April you re-upped with the team for another five years. You're going to be a Giant for a really long time.
A: My wife and I talked about that, you don't really get that opportunity to say, potentially, that you're a "lifetime Giant" or a "lifetime anybody," you know? To have the opportunity to stay with a team your entire career is pretty cool.

Q: Had you ever been to a Giants game before being drafted by San Francisco?
A: I'd been to two. A Giants game was the first big-league game I'd ever been to. They brought me up before instructional league. I think we got to sit in one of the owner-investor's seats over the visitors dugout. I saw Ainsworth pitch. It was just cool. The first big-league game I ever get to go to is the team that I'm with. That doesn't happen very often.

Q: If you grew out your beard, how would it compare to Brian Wilson's?
A: I need to shave it right now and this is about as good as it gets. I brought my shaving kit, all day I've been thinking I need to get rid of this thing. It's terrible.

Q: You think you could play any other sports professionally if you weren't doing baseball?
A: I'd like to think I could play golf. Or at least, I think I used to think that until I got to play in the Pro-Am down at Pebble Beach.

Q: What's your handicap?
A: Six. I know there's a process to get to the PGA Tour, but I feel like I could make a run for it.

Q: Best thing about AT&T Park?
A: I feel like we've always had support with the fans. And that's not a generic answer—I really feel like we did. Even from ’05 till now, we've had some really ugly years in between. Even if we haven't been selling out, I feel like there's always still been energy in the stadium. And there's something to be said about that. When you go to stadiums and there's no one in the stadium, it's just no fun. It always feels—whether it's a day game during the week, a rainout, a makeup game—there's always been that energy in the stadium. That helps a lot.

Q: So your daughter's a year and half old. Does she know you're a Major League Baseball player yet?
A: No ... well, maybe. If we're on the road and she watches the game, everybody is "Da-Da.” She's actually been to a lot of games. She just hangs out in the stands. She won't sit, she claps a lot, she wanders up and down the aisles—you have to make sure you have a buddy at the end of the aisle.

Q: Anyone on the team have a good nickname? One that's really stuck?
A: Yeah. I can't really say Aff eldt's. Um. I mean Panda. I think we really do call Panda, Panda.

Q: He's looking considerably less Panda-ish these days, though.
A:Ha, ha, ha. That's good. I guess we call Wilson, Weezie. It would be Affeldt's, but we can't print his. [Cain smiles.]

Q: What changes once you win a World Series ring?
A: I think there's just a different feeling. We expect to win. You have that taste in our mouth, it's something you always want to get back to.

Q: How many times have you worn the ring?
A: Not many. I don't wear jewelry much. It's gaudy. But it's good—that's what it's supposed to be.

Q: What type of occasions do you wear something like that to?
A: Every time I should've worn it, I've forgotten. Fan Fest, different Giants things. I mean, there are other things you might take it to, too, like dinner with another guy on another team, you may take it then just to rub it in, just as a joke.

Q: What's something you wish you could go back in time and tell 20-year-old Matt Cain in 2005 when he made his MLB debut?
A: You really don't have to try to throw it as hard as possible every time. I think sometimes your body makes you realize it. You gotta, you know, baby it a little bit. You can't always use it to the max every time.

Q: Best place to get brunch in San Francisco?
A: When we lived in Noe Valley: Toast. Now that we're downtown, we love The Grove. And Town's End Bakery.

Q: Favorite restaurants in SF?
A: Patxi's Pizza, we love Patxi's Pizza. We love Morton's. Bobo's down on Lombard. I haven't been to House of Prime Rib in a while, but that's on there. We've clearly got some meaty places. Ozumo's. Love Ozumo's. What is it, Firenze by Night, is that in the Italian district?

Q: It's in North Beach.
A: Is that called North Beach? Yeah.

HOME-RUN EATERIES
Matt Cain’s favorite spots to grab a bite:

Toast: 3991 24th St., 415.642.6328, toasteatery.com

The Grove: 690 Mission St., 415.957.0558

Town’s End Bakery: 2 Townsend St., 415.512.0749, townsendrb.com

Patxi’s Pizza: 3318 Fillmore St., 415.345.3995; 511 Hayes St., 415.558.9991; patxispizza.com

Morton’s: 400 Post St., 415.986.5830, mortons.com

Bobo’s: 1450 Lombard St., 415.441.8880, boboquivaris.com

House of Prime Rib: 1906 Van Ness Ave., 415.885.4605, houseofprimerib.net

Ozumo: 161 Steuart St., 415.882.1333, ozumo.com

Firenze by Night: 1429 Stockton St., 415.392.8585