Giants Insider notebook: Runzler's role change


Giants Insider notebook: Runzler's role change

March 12, 2011

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants left-hander Jonathan Sanchez was scratched from his scheduled start against the rival Dodgers, but there's no cause for concern.The key word here is "rival." Add "division" in front of it, and you've got your answer as to why Sanchez didn't take the hill in front of the biggest crowd in the history of Scottsdale Stadium (12,081).Most big-league teams simply aren't into giving a team they'll be facing over and over during the regular season much of a sneak peek at what they'll be facing if there are other alternatives, and the Giants had a perfectly passable alternative Saturday.Sanchez, in line to face the Dodgers in the second game of the regular season, April 1 in Los Angeles, was sent to the Giants' minor-league camp to pitch in a simulated game with Eli Whiteside as his catcher.Battling fits of wildness with his fastball, Sanchez walked four batters during a four-inning outing and gave up two hits and two earned runs while striking out four.A minor-league coach who watched the outing said Sanchez frequently missed high with his heater, particularly early in the outing, but the Giants were pleased to see him make the proper adjustment with his arm angle to get the ball down thereafter.RUNZLER ON THE SPOT
The decision to "hide" Sanchez from the split-squad of Dodgers created an opportunity for lefty Dan Runzler to make his first Cactus League start.After his club sent the raucous, capacity crowd home thrilled with a two-run rally in the bottom of the ninth inning, Giants manager Bruce Bochy noted that he didn't see Runzler's three-inning outing as a start, per se. The Giants are auditioning for a sixth, or emergency, starter this spring, and the team has toyed with the idea of converting Runzler, who has worked exclusively out of the bullpen during his brief big-league career, but Bochy said Runzler is being stretched out because he's a candidate for a long-relief role at this point.Runzler, who brought a 1.50 ERA in three relief appearances (one run, six innings) this spring into Saturday's game, was touched for one earned run (two total) on five hits while striking out three over three innings. He also made a fielding error that led to the unearned run. NEAL SPARKS COMEBACK
Lefty Javier Lopez gave up four runs (three earned) on three hits and a walk during a seventh-inning outburst that gave the Dodgers a 7-6 lead, but outfield prospect Thomas Neal led a parade of youngsters who starred during the comeback by singling to start the bottom of the ninth and coming around to score on a wild pitch.RECAP: Giants mount ninth inning rally to beat Dodgers
Neal has become a popular player with Giants fans who follow him on Twitter (@tdaddyneal), in part because he offers up a "Question of the Day" every night. A recent query asked fans to weight in on whom they'd most like to be stuck with in a broken-down elevator.Neal rarely answers his own questions, however. Asked why before Saturday's game, he smiled and said, "I don't know. They're just so random. Thinking out loud."One of the responses to Neal's elevator question, by the way, was fairly predictable: "I would wanna be stuck with you!PLENTY OF TIME
Right-hander Matt Cain remains scheduled to return to Cactus League action Monday, having come out of his 47-pitch simulated game Thursday with none of the elbow discomfort that sidelined him in the first place. Now the question is whether he'll have time to build up his pitch count before his first scheduled start of the regular season, April 2 vs. the Dodgers.The Giants don't think it'll be a problem. The natural progression from a 45-pitch outing is to throw 60 the next time out, then 75, 90, etc.If Cain doesn't suffer any setbacks, he'll make four exhibition starts, ostensibly taking him to 90 in his final spring turn. That turn, as of now, would come March 29 -- three days before his scheduled start in L.A.The Giants obviously aren't going to let him work on three days rest after a 90-pitch effort that early in the season, but most teams dial their starters back a bit in their final exhibition outing, anyway, so they'll probably do a little juggling in the next week or two so they don't have to follow Sanchez's first regular-season start with another lefty in No. 4 starter Barry Zito.

Cam Newton benched to start game vs Seahawks for breaking dress code

Cam Newton benched to start game vs Seahawks for breaking dress code

SEATTLE — A missing necktie led to Carolina quarterback Cam Newton getting benched for one series on Sunday night.

Ron Rivera didn't expect it to last just one play.

Carolina's miserable night was capped by a 40-7 loss to Seattle following the most awkward of starts. With Newton being punished for not having a necktie for the team flight to Seattle, the Panthers' starting QB watched backup Derek Anderson throw an interception on the first play of the game.

The turnover only led to a field goal for Seattle, but it was the start of an otherwise forgettable performance by the Panthers that provided another blow to the dwindling playoff hopes of the reigning NFC champions.

Newton missed just one play, but was also just 14-of-32 passing for 182 yards and one touchdown. After pulling within 10-7 in the second quarter, Carolina let Seattle score the final 30 points.

Seahawks lose Thomas, but run all over Panthers in Seattle

Seahawks lose Thomas, but run all over Panthers in Seattle


SEATTLE -- Thomas Rawls ran for 103 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, Tyler Lockett took a reverse 75 yards for a score to open the second half and the Seattle Seahawks routed the Carolina Panthers 40-7 on Sunday night.

Another prime-time game in Seattle was clouded with odd story lines right from the outset when Carolina quarterback Cam Newton was benched for the first play, only to watch backup Derek Anderson throw an interception . It was the start of miserable night for Carolina (4-8) and a laugher that moved Seattle (8-3-1) one step closer to the NFC West title.

Rawls and the run game set the tone for Seattle, gashing the second-best run defense in the NFL for 240 yards. Carolina entered the week giving up less than 80 yards per game on the ground.

Rawls finished with 106 yards on 15 carries, quiet in the second half after briefly being checked for a concussion. He was just the second 100-yard rusher for a run game that has lagged most of the season. Rawls' 8-yard run gave Seattle an early 10-0 lead and his 45-yard sprint early in the second quarter pushed it to 17-7.

Russell Wilson was 26 of 36 for 277 yards and a 1-yard scoring pass to Jimmy Graham in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks rolled up a season-high 534 yards and kept a three-game lead over Arizona in the division with four remaining.

Seattle safety Earl Thomas broke a bone in his lower left leg during a first-half collision with teammate Kam Chancellor while trying to intercept Newton's pass. Thomas hobbled off the field putting no weight on the leg and X-rays revealed a "cracked tibia," coach Pete Carroll told Seattle's radio broadcast.

On the play after Thomas' injury, Newton hit Ted Ginn Jr. on a 55-yard touchdown pass to pull the Panthers to 10-7. It would be the only highlight for Carolina.

Rawls immediately answered, darting through the Carolina defense for the 45-yard touchdown run and a 17-7 lead. Steven Hauschka added two more field goals before halftime and Lockett raced 75 yards on a reverse on the first play of the second half. In less than 10 minutes of game time, Seattle extended the lead to 30-7.

Newton's benching was for a dress code violation, according to the NBC broadcast and the single play he missed could not have gone worse. Anderson rolled out to throw a pass to Mike Tolbert. It bounced off Tolbert's hands and into the arms of Mike Morgan, a disastrous result for that only added to questions about coach Ron Rivera's intention with the punishment.

Newton finished 14 of 32 for 182 yards.


It was seventh meeting in the past five years between the Seahawks and Panthers, playoffs included. It was the first time of the seven the game was decided by more than 14 points. Five of the previous six were decided by seven points or less. The biggest win during the stretch was Seattle's 31-17 win in the 2014 playoffs.


Carolina's injury list grew again.

The Panthers were already without starters Kurt Coleman and Luke Kuechly (concussions), and defensive end Mario Addison (foot) on defense, and right tackle Daryl Williams (ankle) on offense. Carolina then lost cornerback Daryl Worley and linebacker David Mayo to concussions against the Seahawks.


One of the most emotional players on Seattle's roster, Thomas hinted at retirement in a tweet sent just before halftime.

"This game has been so good to me no regrets. A lot is running through my mind including retirement thanks for all the prayers," Thomas tweeted from the Seattle locker room.

Thomas missed the first game of his career last week at Tampa Bay due to a hamstring injury.


Panthers: Carolina returns home and hosts San Diego.

Seahawks: Seattle travels to Green Bay.