Outlook: Cain enters 2013 as one of baseball's best

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- As is so often the case in Spring Training, Matt Cain's performance Monday felt better to him than the results looked in the boxscore.

Cain yielded two runs and five hits in three innings as the Giants dropped a 6-2 Cactus League decision to the Chicago White Sox. Backing up fellow starter Ryan Vogelsong, Cain surrendered two fifth-inning runs, his first inning of work, before blanking Chicago in the next two innings.

"I felt like I was a lot more consistent with what I was doing with my mechanics," said Cain, whose spring ERA inched downward from 6.75 to 6.43. "I had a lot better feel of where I was going with pitches. I'm still making some mistakes at times, but that's all right. I'm just trying to work out the bugs."

This was the third Spring outing for Cain, San Francisco's starter for the April 1 season opener at Los Angeles. As he noted, at this juncture he and his teammates already would be in the middle of March. But due to the World Baseball Classic and the earlier beginning to Spring Training and the Cactus League season, Cain should make at least four more starts before he confronts the Dodgers.

"You're getting to face hitters a lot," Cain said, "and we learn by doing that."

Worth noting

• First baseman Brandon Belt continued his impressive offensive display by tripling and scoring in Monday's fourth inning. Belt is 10-for-15 (.667) in his last four games. The Giants, who began Monday as one of six National League teams with a double figure home run total, received their 12th of the spring as Joaquin Arias cleared the left-field barrier in the first inning.

• Manager Bruce Bochy played Kensuke Tanaka at shortstop for all nine innings Monday in the continuing effort to determine whether the non-roster invitee can develop the versatility to play somewhere besides second base, his natural position. Tanaka started two double plays but struggled with a couple of backhanded fielding attempts. "He needs more work at shortstop," Bochy said, echoing previous comments. "That's why I left him in for nine innings."

• Giants players will receive a special treat Tuesday morning, when they'll be addressed by Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda and Gaylord Perry.