ANAHEIM -- After Matt Cain's perfect game last week against the Astros, the Hall of Fame took his cleats and his cap as mementos from his historic achievement. The greatest gift he had received so far was the 10-0 win.
But before his start against the Angels on Monday, his first since perfection, Japanese sporting goods maker Mizuno gave Cain one of the strangest gifts he has ever received for a baseball achievement -- a samurai sword.
A traditional Japanese honor, the sword was given to Cain for making history while wearing a Mizuno glove. The company gives the authentic gift (yes, it's sharp) to recognize the most significant athletic achievements of its ambassadors.
And in true samurai fashion, Cain bowed before holding his gift for the first time.
"I'm not sure where I can put it, but I'm going to find a special spot for it," Cain said. "I think it's really, really cool that Mizuno has presented me with this honor, and I'm very proud of it."
Mizuno has given a samurai sword to only four other Major Leaguers to honor their accomplishments. They gave it to former Braves manager Bobby Cox upon his retirement in 2010, Athletics pitcher Dallas Braden for his perfect game in 2010, Zack Greinke for winning the American League Cy Young Award in 2009 and Chipper Jones for winning the National League batting title in 2008.
Obviously, being presented with a sword isn't something Cain has to deal with before a normal start. But at 3:30 p.m. PT when he received it, he would just be relaxing anyway, so his routine didn't have to be changed to get a weapon before his start.
"This is normal. Just hanging out is something that I'd be doing anyway before the game," Cain said. "Still right now is kind of a relaxing time. I get into my normal routine in just a little while."
Giants counting on rebound by Lincecum
ANAHEIM -- It's no secret Giants starter Tim Lincecum is struggling.
In 14 starts this season, the righty has a 6.19 ERA and has given up four runs or more in 10 outings. He has thrown more than seven innings just once.
Lineceum's fellow starters know he isn't himself. Manager Bruce Bochy knows. But the only thing they can do, Bochy said, is to keep throwing him out there every fifth day and hope he eventually finds it.
"You've got to stay hopeful. You've got no choice," Bochy said. "In a case like this, we're optimistic that Timmy's going to find it. He's too close."
In his last start, after surrendering his second solo home run in the first inning against the Mariners, Lincecum went on to retire 10 of the next 11 batters he faced before falling into a funk again in the fifth inning.
"I don't care how long he goes on, you never lose that feeling of 'Hey, I'm going to turn this around' every time you go out there," Bochy said. "It is harder for a starter, though, because they go out there every fifth day. A position player, you go out there every day."
Even with the two-time Cy Young winner having as down a year as he is, Matt Cain said the other starters aren't feeling more pressure because of Lincecum's struggles. All they can do is try to give their teammate as much support as he needs until he returns to his old form.
"I think all of us are still trying to do our thing between starts, worried about pitching every fifth day and pushing ourselves," Cain said. "But we're constantly talking to each other and trying to find ways to help each other out."
Giants mixing it up at designated hitter
ANAHEIM -- Like he did in the Giants' last Interleague series against the Mariners, manager Bruce Bochy is going with three different designated hitters against the Angels.
In the series opener, Pablo Sandoval was the DH and will be followed by Buster Posey on Tuesday and Melky Cabrera on Wednesday.
Sandoval has played four games as a DH in his career with a .333 average (5-for-15), one home run and three RBIs.
Posey's first game as a DH was in the series opener against the Mariners, where he went 2-for-4.
Bochy said he wanted to get Cabrera "off his legs" by playing him as the DH in the finale. He has played in only two games as a DH in his career with two hits in nine at-bats.
Joe McIntyre is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.