Baggarly: Matt Cain and the scout who signed him

From Andrew Baggarly at the San Jose Mercury News on March 29, 2016:

First impressions are everything to baseball scouts. They watch and evaluate thousands of players every year. They are always looking for something that stands out.

But scouts can make their own strong initial impressions on players, too. And Matt Cain has a clear recollection of the first time Giants scout Lee Elder walked into his suburban Memphis home.

“I remember staring at that big-ass Yankee World Series ring on your hand,” Cain often tells him.

“Now I own a couple more of those big-ass World Series rings, thanks to you,” Elder shoots back.

Cain and Elder are a rare pair. It’s not too often that a pitcher can walk onto the field in spring training, still in the same organization 14 years after being drafted, see the scout that signed him leaning against the dugout rail, his mouth wadded up with sunflower seeds, and wave.

The scout-player relationship isn’t what it once was. Scouts still beat the bushes and unearth gems, but they don’t carry fat billfolds in their back pockets and sign players on the spot. The number of showcases, tournaments, scouts and cross-checkers makes it impossible to keep a talented hitter or power arm submerged for long.

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Originally published: March 31, 2016. Last Updated: March 31, 2016.