SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — As golfer Dustin Johnson crushed drives from home plate over the right-field wall and into San Francisco Bay, pitcher Matt Cain and manager Bruce Bochy glanced at each other before looking into the stands for approval from Giants general manager Brian Sabean.
Then, the San Francisco ace grabbed a club and smacked one of his own — splashing the ball into McCovey Cove 310 yards away — hours before he threw the first perfect game in Giants history, striking out 14 in a 10-0 victory over the Houston Astros on Wednesday night.
Cain dazzled with his swing with a 342-yard drive during the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am back in February, yet Sabean hollered that he would turn his head when the pitcher took his drive — and the GM did just that for a moment.
Sabean's apprehension is understandable. In early April, Cain signed a $127.5 million, six-year contract, the largest deal for a right-handed pitcher in baseball history.
"I knew he was a good golfer," Johnson said about Cain. "(Sabean) didn't want him (to hit). He said he was going inside."
Reliever Clay Hensley also hit drives from the tee on home plate, and former first baseman J.T. Snow nearly drilled a spotter with a low drive on his second attempt before adjusting his swing and hitting a couple of pretty drives. A few Astros who came outside to watch the fanfare were offered a chance but declined.
"That was pretty cool," Johnson said ahead of his opening round at the U.S. Open on Thursday. "This is the first time I've been to the stadium, gorgeous stadium. To hit drivers off of home plate is pretty fun, especially out into McCovey Cove. It's probably the coolest place I've hit balls, maybe besides Augusta."
Hensley took his first round of swings — "Let's get him his PGA Tour card!" hollered teammate Aubrey Huff — and later stepped in for a few more, drawing an "Ooooh, wow!" from slugger Pablo Sandoval on a 292-yard shot. Hall of Famer Willie McCovey watched from nearby as balls splashed into his cove. Each drive was tracked for distance and speed on the main scoreboard in center field. Pitching coach Dave Righetti shot a video of the hitting show, saying, "Let's watch the rips," as Hensley took his turn.
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