TEX@SF: Posey cuts down two would-be basestealers

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The precision that Matt Cain displayed against the Texas Rangers on Friday, when he threw 49 strikes in 70 pitches, reflected his effectiveness in the Giants' 5-2 Cactus League victory.

But some of the afternoon's best tosses were made not by Cain, but by catcher Buster Posey, who threw out two would-be basestealers and very nearly apprehended a third.

"That'll turn around innings or get you out of some funky jams at times," said Cain, who yielded two hits in his five-inning outing, the longest by a Giant this spring.

Manager Bruce Bochy had complained earlier this spring that Giants pitchers were slightly ponderous in their motion to home plate, thus simplifying matters for opponents trying to steal bases. Cain agreed that he and his fellow pitchers must find ways to assist Posey.

"You just have to vary your [release] times and work on keeping those guys off balance," Cain said. "If you give him a chance, it doesn't matter who's running a lot of times. It's going to be close."

Cain drew closer to being ready for his Opening Day start April 1 at Los Angeles.

"I felt confident throwing whatever I wanted," he said. "I was able to get ahead on the count and my misses weren't as big, I think."

LaTorre cherishes World Baseball Classic experience

ITA@PUR: Italy on impressive run despite elimination

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Though the Giants reassigned Tyler LaTorre to Minor League camp Friday, he brought some big-time memories with him.

LaTorre rejoined the Giants after a rousing stint in the World Baseball Classic with Italy, which qualified for the tournament's second round. Italy advanced by edging Mexico and thrashing Canada, but lost one-run games to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico earlier this week and was eliminated.

"It was a great group of guys working for one goal," said LaTorre, entering his eighth year as a catcher in the Giants organization. "There were no egos involved. Everybody was together."

LaTorre said that participating in the Classic gave him valuable experience.

"My last at-bat was off a closer who had a 0.60 ERA in the big leagues last year [Fernando Rodney]," LaTorre said. "I just played in front of 30,000 fans against one of the best closers in the league. I'm not going to feel like I can be beat. I'm always going to have that confidence ... that I'm a solid player who can help [the Giants] win at any point during the year."

LaTorre believed that he and his teammates raised a country's baseball consciousness.

"Talking to a lot of the guys who were born and raised in Italy, baseball's not even on the sports section of any paper there. It's always soccer, soccer, soccer, soccer, soccer and then more soccer," LaTorre said. "To get that recognition for kids, push the game on a world stage, and to see how much fun we were having playing against the best players in the world -- hopefully what happens over there is guys see how much baseball can bring someone. That's all you can ask for."

Top prospects sent down as Giants cut 21 players

SD@SF: Brown ropes a single in the eighth inning

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Leading prospects such as outfielder Gary Brown, right-handers Heath Hembree and Chris Heston and left-hander Mike Kickham were among the horde of 21 players sent Friday by the Giants to Minor League camp.

The Giants want Brown, San Francisco's No. 1 selection in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, to fit a leadoff hitter's profile more closely. He compiled a decent .481 slugging percentage in 14 Cactus League appearances. But since he drew no walks, his .259 on-base percentage matched his batting average. He also struck out eight times in 27 plate appearances.

"He needs to go back to the Minor Leagues and work on his approach," general manager Brian Sabean said of Brown, rated the organization's No. 2 prospect by MLB.com. "He obviously can play the outfield. But to be an everyday player, he has to swing the bat with more authority and he's still learning how to do that."

Hembree, the No. 5 prospect who's projected as a potential closer, posted a 9.00 ERA in five appearances, but that was skewed by a four-run inning against Cleveland on March 7.

"He's still learning how to pitch," Sabean said. "He has to use his secondary stuff and be more aggressive with his fastball -- throw strikes with it."

Heston and Kickham, the organization's eighth- and 12th-ranked prospects, respectively, showed hints of their talent but need more experience after pitching at Double-A Richmond last year. Sabean said that Kickham has been considered for a possible move to the bullpen, though no shift is imminent.

Joining Heston in the group optioned to Triple-A Fresno were right-handers Jake Dunning and Dan Otero, outfielders Roger Kieschnick and Juan Perez (No. 20 prospect), shortstop Ehire Adrianza (No. 14), infielder Nick Noonan and left-hander Sandy Rosario. Left-hander Edwin Escobar (No. 10) was optioned to Class A San Jose.

Reassigned to Minor League camp with Brown, Hembree and Kickham were first baseman Ricky Oropesa (No. 17), catcher Tyler LaTorre, infielders Adam Duvall and Brock Bond and right-handers Boof Bonser, Steve Edlefsen, Mitch Lively, Shane Loux and Brett Bochy, manager Bruce Bochy's son.

Worth noting

• Right-hander Brett Bochy, manager Bruce Bochy's son, was among the 21 players sent to Minor League camp Friday. Bruce Bochy handled this matter by informing Brett over dinner Thursday night. Having pitched at Double-A Richmond last year, the younger Bochy wasn't expected to make the Giants' Opening Day roster. But he has progressed nicely since undergoing Tommy John surgery in April 2010.

"He worked hard to get this far," said Bruce Bochy, who also was grateful just to see his son on the field each day: "You spend so much time away from your kids, particularly when you're in baseball."

• Injury updates: Left-hander Jose Mijares (elbow) is expected back in camp Saturday after attending to a personal matter and likely will throw on flat ground. ... Infielder Tony Abreu (knee) remained unable to perform after appearing in his first Cactus League game Monday. "He's coming along slow," Bochy said. ... Bochy announced that catcher Hector Sanchez (right shoulder) must wait until Tuesday before he can resume swinging a bat. Bochy added that the switch-hitting Sanchez might participate in several Minor League exhibition games to get at-bats.

• Bochy said that though he'll attend Saturday night's split-squad game against Cleveland, he'll mainly remain a spectator and will turn the managerial duties over to Bob Mariano, who manages the Giants' Triple-A Fresno affiliate.