About last night --Nice effort, no doubt it. Warriors hang in, down just onewith two minutes left, then lose 124-118 to the Lakers in L.A.Warriors are playing better. Im thinking if they stayrelatively healthy from here on out, and play pretty much like they have thepast week, Don Nelson getting that record isnt going to be an issue.--Not a stretch to say Ronny Turiaf is a little furtherahead of Andris Biedrins.--Stephen Curry does some nice things, but I keep waitingfor him to turn the ball over less and bump up that assist-to-turnover ratio to2-to-1. Thats got to be astarting point for an NBA point guard, even a rookie. --Monta Ellis didnt shoot the ball as well as he had beenshooting, going 10-for-23 against the Lakers, but he still was pretty solid,all things considered. The more I see Ellis this season the more I think thatif the Warriors could find a player as good as him or better, then they mighthave a little something. But where to find that player?--By the way, Curry might know a little bit about howAnthony Randolph feels. Warriors coach Don Nelson has definitely been coachingCurry a little harder in recent games, favoring C.J. Watson over him at certaintimes.I dont have a big problem with Nelson holding Curry moreaccountable if for no other reason than it should make Randolph realize hesnot the only one.--Hey, Biedrins and Turiaf might not make the Warriors aplayoff team, but they certainly make them better. They do it in a number ofways, with interior defense and rebounding topping the list.At the same time, dont sleep on Biedrins and Turiafsbasketball IQs. Simply put, they make the Warriors a smarter team, which ispretty important considering Golden State isnt the most cerebral team in theleague.Both of those centers can pass a little bit, which keeps theball moving at the offensive end, and both players understand the team defenseconcept.--Already looking a little bit forward to Warriors-Portlandgame on Jan. 2. Everyone knows Ellis did a bang-up job on Brandon Roy the lasttime the teams met in Oakland, probably Roy most of all. Roys a good one andthe good ones dont like to be outplayed twice in a row.
MESA, Ariz. — As the pieces are beginning to fit for the A’s 25-man roster, Jaff Decker may be an unlikely feel-good story come Opening Night.
A non-roster invitee this spring, the journeyman has impressed with his all-around game to the point that he might make Oakland’s club as a fifth outfielder.
There’s other factors that play into it — how many relievers the A’s carry will determine whether they keep five outfielders — but things are breaking right for the 27-year-old Decker, who’s with his fourth organization and has never made an Opening Night roster.
When Jake Smolinski went down with a shoulder injury that required surgery, it thrust Decker into the competition. Then Monday, the A’s released veteran Alejandro De Aza, who had impressed this spring but had an opt-out clause in his minor league deal. The A’s think enough of Decker that they cut De Aza loose. On Monday, Decker returned from a minor oblique issue and started in left field, going 1-for-3 in a 10-3 loss to Kansas City.
“I’m super excited,” Decker said. “I feel like I fit in well here, and I get along with the guys really well. It’s a good group of baseball minds, baseball guys. I hope I have done enough and shown I’m healthy enough to land that spot.”
De Aza hit .300 in 19 games and displayed the veteran savvy that seemed to make him a possible fit on the A’s bench. Manager Bob Melvin expressed hope that De Aza might re-sign with the A’s if he doesn’t find a big league opportunity elsewhere.
But Decker, who bats left-handed as does De Aza, is hitting .308 and has his own attributes, including a strong arm and the ability to play all three outfield spots. It’s a nice package of skills for a player who, at 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds, doesn’t appear the prototypical big league outfielder at first glance.
If the A’s keep seven relievers, they will take five outfielders into the regular season. The decision on a seventh reliever appears to be between lefty Daniel Coulombe and right-hander Frankie Montas. But the A’s could hang on to both and only keep four outfielders, with Mark Canha being the fourth.
Decker fun fact: His first name is pronounced “Jeff.” He’s named after his uncle, whose first name was misspelled on his birth certificate. Decker’s uncle kept the spelling.
MELVIN ON RAIDERS: Melvin, a Bay Area native who is quite tuned in to the history of local teams, weighed in on the Raiders announcing a move to Las Vegas. That news has a direct impact on the A’s, obviously, as a co-tenant of the Coliseum with the Raiders.
“It’s too bad,” Melvin said. “Like us, they have a rich tradition and unbelievable fan base. They’re well supported in the Bay Area. It’s tough to have to deal with it.”
NOTEWORTHY: In his first start since being named part of the rotation, Andrew Triggs struggled mightily against the Royals, getting tagged for eight runs and three homers in 3 2/3 innings. While stressing that now is no time for complacency in his position, Triggs also said he was approaching the game differently than if it were the regular season. He kept throwing his changeup, his fourth best pitch, in an effort to get more comfortable with it.
“If this were (the regular season), we probably would have said in the first or second inning, this wasn’t so great, and gone out there and started back-dooring cutters and working off the sinker,” he said. “But we made a concerted effort to work on a pitch, it wasn’t very good, and the results showed that.”
FAMILIAR FACE: One of the homers off Triggs came from former Athletic Brandon Moss, who connected for a two-run shot in the fourth. The outfielder signed a two-year, $12 million contract with the Royals in the offseason.
ODDS AND ENDS: Coulombe had a great day, tossing three scoreless innings. That’s three outings in a row without allowing a run for the lefty after a rough patch before that. Melvin pointed out that the ability to throw multiple innings will be important if Coulombe makes the team. … Matt Chapman homered in the fifth, his third long ball of the spring. He’s hitting .261 and playing stellar defense. “He’s got a lot of enthusiasm and it rubs off on guys,” Melvin said.
Fairfield native Manuel "Tino" Avila (22-0, 8 KO) will challenge Joseph Diaz Jr. (23-0, 13 KO) for his NABF Featherweight title on May 6th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
This will be Avila's first appearance on pay-per-view television, as part of the undercard for the Canelo Alvarez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. main event presented by Golden Boy Promotions.
This will be the biggest test of each fighter's budding careers, and could prove to be the most action-packed fight of the night.
Avila is coming off a hard-earned split decision victory over Jose Ramirez last November. The 24-year will undoubtedly enter the bout as an underdog.
Diaz - a former U.S. Olympian - has successfully defended his title four times, including a unanimous decision victory over Horacio Garcia in December.