Missing any time is frustrating to Matt Cain, but the San Francisco Giants are making good use of a little understood MLB rule in order to minimize that lost time. Cain's finger laceration will only cost the minimum time due to the Giants' use of the "retroactive" provision of the disabled list rules.
Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle had the scoop that Cain cut himself when trying to cut sandwiches into "fancy little triangles." He dropped the knife and (get this) tried to catch it. That didn't work out well, leaving him with a nasty cut on his index finger.
The cut didn't require stitches, but sources tell me that the Giants medical staff did use several techniques, including adhesives and protective coverings to help the cut heal quickly and properly. Things were looking good up to Monday, when, in the pregame warm-up, Cain felt like the cut was going to "pop open."
The Giants decided to skip him and did so in part because they understood the retroactive provision. Essentially, the rule allows a team to backdate a DL stint to the day after the player's last appearance. Cain was able to be backdated to April 25th, which makes his effective DL stint only a few days.
Cain is scheduled to pitch this weekend in Los Angeles and will be eligible to come off the DL on Friday. If the finger has healed up, he'll come off the DL and make the start. The Giants will "shadow" him, meaning they'll have a long man ready in the pen in case the finger becomes a problem. This does limit the pen slightly for a few days, but is the smart move.
Yusmeiro Petit took both starts in Cain's absence and is likely to be the shadow. Petit's place as the de facto swingman is another smart usage of roster spots and skills by the Giants. The Giants also recalled Jake Dunning when placing Cain on the DL, giving them another arm that could be used as a long relief arm or as an emergency starter.
In the long term, the fancy little triangles won't cost Matt Cain much time, and it shouldn't cause any issues once the laceration is healed enough to pitch. On and off the field, the Giants have worked to minimize an injury, showing others just how this should work.