ST. LOUIS -- As Mike Matheny wrapped up his catching career with two seasons in San Francisco, his path intersected that of a budding young right-hander who had been taken in the first round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft.
Three years after that Draft, Matheny caught Matt Cain's Major League debut on Aug. 29, 2005, and he went on to be his batterymate in five of the next six starts Cain made during his first season with the Giants. Matheny began the '06 season as Cain's primary catcher, too, before concussions ended his season -- and career -- prematurely.
Cain has since become a perennial All-Star, a staff ace, and he added a perfect game to his list of accomplishments in June. It was the first perfect game in San Francisco history. On Wednesday, Matheny, now manager of the Cardinals, prepared to watch Cain, San Francisco's Game 3 starter, from a different vantage point.
"[I've] always been a big fan of Matt and the way he has gone about his business," Matheny said before Wednesday's game. "Even as a young player, a lot like I talked about a young [Chris] Carpenter and Roy Halladay in Toronto, I saw the same sort of makeup in Matt Cain. The stuff was very obvious, but just the makeup and how he held himself together on the mound, much more mature than his age at the time. He's had a very, very nice career. And [he is] somebody that I have a lot of respect for, and [it] is an honor to be a part of his early career."
In two starts against the Cardinals this year, Cain allowed 16 hits and nine earned runs in 11 2/3 innings.