SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants are one game away from heading home, and they might do so with the World Series MVP back in the lineup.

Manager Bruce Bochy said third baseman Pablo Sandoval showed improvement Tuesday and no longer feels pain in his right elbow after a bout of ulnar neuritis. Sandoval is scheduled to go through a light workout Wednesday and might resume throwing.

"From two days ago, we're a lot more optimistic about the possibility of him going opening day," Bochy said.

Sandoval hasn't played since March 16 and has had multiple tests on his right elbow to determine the extent of the damage. Bochy now believes that Sandoval could get back on the field when the Giants play the A's in a three-game exhibition series that starts Thursday.

The Giants begin the season April 1 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

  • Matt Cain didn't exactly have the backing of an opening day lineup when he took the mound for his final tuneup before the season opener.

    On a back field at Scottsdale Stadium, Bochy (first base), coaches Tim Flannery (second base) and Billy Hayes (third base) and instructor Shawon Dunston (shortstop) made up the infield in a simulated game. For Cain's sixth and final inning, the outfield alignment was the trio of Madison Bumgarner (left field), Barry Zito (center) and Tim Lincecum (right).

    "This is a Hall of Fame Game," Cain yelled between innings. "More like the Hall of Shame!"


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    Despite the laid-back atmosphere, Cain said he won't have any trouble turning up the dial for the first opening day assignment of his nine-year major league career. What's more, he thinks the simulated game -- rather than facing the San Diego Padres -- helped him get focused.

    "It's tougher because you have to play the game in your mind," Cain said. "That's almost harder. That's good mental preparation."

    Cain threw 93 pitches against minor leaguers and worked at length on throwing pitches low and away to right-handed batters. He took advantage of the relaxed setting, stopping catcher Jackson Williams and first baseman Todd Linden several times to ask them about the movement on pitches.

    The next hitters Cain faces will be Dodgers, and he said he is becoming increasingly excited about his opening day start.

    "It'll be memorable for me," he said. "It's one of those spots you've got to work for and earn."

  • Right-hander Chad Gaudin has raved about the work ethic of the Giants pitchers all spring long. "All these guys have been top-notch," he said. Now, Gaudin is one of the guys. The veteran had his contract purchased and was added to the major league roster as the final piece of the bullpen. Gaudin had a 2.81 ERA in nine appearances this spring.

  • The Giants beat the Padres 4-2 in the final Cactus League game at Scottsdale Stadium. First baseman Brandon Belt started in left field and had three more hits, raising his spring average to .453. Brandon Crawford had two hits, and Hunter Pence drove in two runs.

  • Infielder Brock Bond won the Harry S. Jordan award, given to the player who has the best performance in his first big league camp. A nonroster invitee, Bond hit .435 with two homers before being reassigned to minor league camp.

    Last year's winner, right-hander Dan Otero, was claimed off waivers Tuesday by the New York Yankees.

  • Lincecum, Zito and Ryan Vogelsong will face the A's in the Bay Bridge series.

    For more on the Giants, see Alex Pavlovic's Giants Extra blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/Giants.

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