Matt Cain had a 2016 to forget. (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Buster Posey believes Matt Cain has a good year left in tank

Set to begin his ninth season as Matt Cain’s teammate, Buster Posey believes that the San Francisco Giants’ one-time ace still has what it takes to lock down the final spot in the club’s rotation.

Cain, who’s jostling with Ty Blach and top prospect Tyler Beede for that last gig, hasn’t thrown more than 17 starts in a single season since 2013, but also enters this spring as healthy as he’s been in years.

“It’s human nature when you’ve known somebody as long as we’ve known him and you’ve seen him struggle, you definitely want him to have success,” Posey told KNBR of his longtime teammates.

In 2016, the right-hander, who ran up a 5.64 ERA in 89.1 innings, spent the final month of the season either on the disabled list or banished to the bullpen.

“Obviously, we all have a timeline on us,” Posey added. “We only get to play for a certain amount of time I guess that’s part of it is realizing that, but I think he’s still got plenty in the tank where he can have a good year.”

General manager Bob Evans has already indicated that Cain’s contract status — he makes $20 million this year and has a $21 million club option for 2018 — will have to pitch his way past Blach and Beede throughout the Cactus League schedule.

Blach produced a 1.06 ERA in a four-appearance cameo last season and tabs Beede as the No. 88 prospect in the minors.

Posey preparing to leave behind Giants for WBC

Asked about his upcoming involvement in the World Baseball classic, Posey, well-known for his reserved style, didn’t sound overly enthused to be reporting for duty.

“I think it’s one of those deals where when I get there I’ll probably be more excited,” Posey said on KNBR. “Right now, I’m kind of getting used to spring training and getting in that groove. It’s definitely a different spring having to leave and then comeback and then come back — hopefully the 22nd.

Posey admitted that it will be easier to leave behind his Orange and Black teammates this spring as opposed to last. This year, Posey’s main task is to learn as much as he can about with new closer Mark Melancon. Last spring, the backstop was busy studying up on a pair of starters in Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija.

“I caught him in the first game and hopefully I’ll get in with him a couple more times,’ Posey said of working with Melancon. “And even that’s a little different because you’re talking about one inning — though it is the crucial inning — it’s not like I’m catching him like Samardzija or Cueto where you’ve got to really get a lot of work in with them.”

Sonny shines in first start of the spring

Making his first start in seven months, Sonny Gray punched out four San Diego Padres in two scoreless innings of work on Wednesday afternoon.

Last week, Gray had to drop up of the WBC because he couldn’t get clearance from an insurance company to pitch due to his missing an extended period of time on the disabled list last season. When reporters asked Gray about the situation, the Oakland Athletics’ right-hander insisted that he’s moved on.

“I’m very happy to be here and just continue to feel good and get on the mound and compete,” Gray said. “So it’s kind of [like] I haven’t even thought about it again.”

Puk impresses in spring debut

A.J. Puk, the club’s top pick in last June’s draft, caught the eye of his boss in his Cactus League debut on Tuesday. The 6-foot-7 lefty struck out the side against the Cleveland Indians at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa.

Manager Bob Melvin was most focused on the fact that the 21-year-old has successfully added a curveball in his arsenal.

“[It gives him] a true four-pitch mix and that’s a guy that we envision being a starter,” Melvin told reporters. “So, to be able to do that at the big league level and pitch deeper into games, you have to have a little bit more of a pitch compliment and he definitely has that.”a.j. pukBob MelvinBuster PoseyMatt CainMLBOakland AthleticsSan Francisco GiantsSonny Gray

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