SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti smiled and held up his hand as he heard a question that has an answer based partly on good fortune. How have the Giants managed to keep their starting pitchers so healthy, and can they do it again?

"This is going to jinx us," Righetti said.

Righetti, in his 14th year as Giants pitching coach, is well aware of the precedent his five starters are trying to set. A year ago, right-handers Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong and left-handers Madison Bumgarner and Barry Zito made 160 of 162 regular season starts, becoming just the ninth quintet in MLB history to each reach the 30-start mark.

None of the previous groups repeated the feat.

"It just isn't done," Cain said. "It's just hard to stay healthy sometimes. You get five guys to try and do that together and little things happen here and there, whether you're running the bases or a guy hits a ball off of you. So many little things can happen during the season to stop a guy from pitching."

Cain knows that from experience, having been hit by a comebacker each of the last two springs. But for all the bumps and bruises, the Giants in recent years largely have avoided the serious injuries that sideline pitchers on a daily basis.

Righetti knows he has been lucky with the current staff, but he won't carry a four-leaf clover in his back pocket during mound visits this year. The Giants lucky charm, Righetti said, is an experienced staff that every day grinds through workouts individually tailored to each pitcher.

For those who believe that sounds simplistic or cliché, the training staff kindly will ask that you look back to June 14 of last year, when Cain was running sprints at 7:30 a.m. the morning after throwing a perfect game. Or July 5, when Bumgarner went through an early workout on a stifling day in Washington, hoping to wash away the previous day's seven-run outing. Or last December, when Vogelsong, who had committed to the World Baseball Classic, started throwing again barely a month removed from the World Series.

"I'm pretty spoiled with this group," strength and conditioning coach Carl Kochan said. "I've got five guys that hold themselves accountable. Sometimes you have guys at this level who have days they don't want to work out, but none of these guys ever deviate from their routine."

That routine is one formulated after the pitchers take physicals each spring. The Giants closely check their pitchers' joints and range of motion, giving Kochan, trainer Dave Groeschner and the rest of the staff a canvas with which to work.

"Whatever a guy is lacking, that's what we're going to attack," Kochan said. "That is his weak link, and I don't want any of my guys to have any weak links."

The routine is rigid in general, but different for each pitcher. The day after a start is spent on heavy conditioning, lower body lifting and core work. The pitchers throw a bullpen session, run sprints and do upper body maintenance on the second day between starts and the third day is spent on short, high-intensity sprints and additional core work. The fourth day is what Kochan jokingly calls the "stealing their meal money day," with starters doing just a few easy sprints as they prepare mentally for the next day's start.

Each starter's program is reconfigured every five starts, personally tailored to that pitcher's style. Cain, who has slimmed down over the years, has taken to running and said he has learned not to keep up with Bumgarner, "the big Bamm-Bamm," in the weight room. Zito spends much of his down time in the clubhouse stretching on a foam roller. The 35-year-old Vogelsong, who had back problems last spring, does more core work than most pitchers. And Lincecum?

"He's good at everything," Kochan said. "That's why they call him the freak."

The results speak for themselves. Cain has missed just one start in his eight years, and it wasn't health-related. "It was because I was really bad," Cain said, smiling.

Lincecum, considered a health risk coming out of college, has made at least 32 starts each of the past five seasons and Zito has hit that mark 11 of the past 12 years.

The healthy run certainly is due to more than diligent workouts. Cain points out that the coaching staff has made a habit of giving starters extra rest with each off day rather than reworking the rotation, and also said the consistently good bullpen keeps starters from worrying too much when they are pulled from games.

That's especially important this year after a long 2012 season that ended with a Halloween parade. The Giants closely watched spring workloads and Righetti said extra attention would be paid to Bumgarner, who already has thrown 5692/3 big league innings at the age of 23 and wore down at the end of last season.

The Giants have little starting pitching depth in the high minors, and while they prepare their big leaguers as well as anyone in baseball, they understand that there's only so much you can do when you're talking about protecting pitchers.

"There's a luck of the draw, so to speak," Righetti said. "Any pitcher that logs a lot of innings is suspect to hurting something. But we've been fortunate over the years."

For more on the Giants, see Alex Pavlovic's Giants Extra blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/Giants. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/AlexPavlovic.