A's Insider notebook: Crisp covers for rusty Cahill


A's Insider notebook: Crisp covers for rusty Cahill

Feb. 27, 2011

MESA, Ariz. -- The A's arrived at HoHoKam Park for their Cactus League opener against the Cubs on Sunday just as the skies stopped pounding the desert with hail.They spent the rest of the day pounding Chicago pitching, rallying from the 4-0 hole that starter Trevor Cahill dug with an 18-hit attack on the way to a 15-7 victory.Eight of the hits came from four players -- with two hits each -- who likely won't make the team, but it was one of the regulars who provided the biggest blow of the day. Leadoff man Coco Crisp blasted Cubs newcomer Matt Garza for a third-inning grand slam that tied the score and drew some self-deprecating humor from Cahill, who allowed four runs on five hits and a walk over one-third of an inning.
RECAP: Crisp's slam leads A's outburst in big win over Cubs
"You mean I'm off the hook for the loss?" Cahill cracked.Crisp's homer, a no-doubter in any park, provided a glimpse of the sneaky power he possesses. It comes from his quick hands and wrists more than from brute strength, and it's pretty clear that Crisp's hands are just fine thus far.Cahill, a right-hander who won 18 games last season, said he was generally pleased with his outing despite the ugly bottom line, saying he made plenty of good pitches. They just happened to get whacked."Obviously you want to do well all the time," Cahill said, "but I'd rather have a bad outing now than later on. For now, it's all right."A LONG TIME COMING
Righty reliever Joey Devine and lefty Josh Outman, a leading candidate for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, made their long-awaited returns to competitive action Sunday. Devine gave up a hit and a walk while throwing a scoreless third inning, and Outman followed with two shutout innings of three-hit work.Devine hadn't pitched in a big-league game since 2008. Outman last faced big-league hitters in mid-2009."After the last warmup pitch, when they threw the ball around the infield, I realized, 'I'm finally back,'" said Devine, who admitted he was nervous all day before taking the mound. "I just wanted to finish my outing without any pain I wanted to be able to walk away feeling good."Both pitchers are nearing full recovery of the Tommy John surgeries that interrupted their blossoming careers, so at this point in camp, the results were a secondary concern."I got through it and felt good," Outman said, and that should have A's fans feeling pretty good, too.SICK BAY
New outfielder David DeJesus did not play because he wasn't feeling well in the morning, and Geren suggested he'll probably give DeJesus another day off Monday, putting him in line to make his A's debut in the team's home opener Tuesday.Righty reliever Michael Wuertz was cleared to play long toss Sunday after several days of inactivity to combat a minor case of shoulder tendinitis. He could make his way into a game by the end of the week, Geren said.Shortstop Cliff Pennington looks like a man dying to get into a game, but it probably won't happen for another week. The team's unofficial medical motto this year -- "Don't Rush It" -- means that every precaution will be taken as Pennington builds strength in his surgically repaired left shoulder. MATSUI-MANIA
Hideki Matsui did not make the trip to Mesa; he'll make his A's debut Sunday against the Angels, for whom he played last season. His lack of action didn't stop the horde of Japanese media that tracks his every move from showing up for Geren's morning press briefing at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, though, and the session was interrupted briefly by fans screaming as "Godzilla" took the field.Just another day in the life of an international superstar."That must be an interesting feeling," said Geren. "It's like walking the red carpet every day."GAMERS
Tyson Ross, another candidate for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, took over for Cahill with two on and one out in the first inning and promptly got out of the jam with a double play. He also worked a scoreless second inning, allowing one hit. Bobby Cramer, also fighting for No. 5, gave up a run on two hits and a walk over two innings of work. Outfielder Michael Choice, Oakland's top pick in the 2010 draft, singled in his first two at-bats and scored two runs. One of his hits came on a fairly routine ground ball to second base that he simply beat out with hustle and speed. Moments later he scored easily from first base on a double high off the wall by catcher Anthony Recker. Outfielders Matt Carson (two doubles) and Jai Miller (single, triple), Choice and Recker each had two hits, as did newcomer Josh Willingham, who chipped in with an RBI single. Daric Barton doubled, too. Brad Ziegler gave up a hit and a walk while wrapping up the victory with a scoreless ninth inning.

Clippers have more to prove in first clash of 2016-17 with Warriors

Clippers have more to prove in first clash of 2016-17 with Warriors

LOS ANGELES – On the scale of NBA regular-season epic, Warriors-Clippers on Wednesday night rates a solid 8 for the Warriors. It’s circled on the desk calendars in pencil, a game they want for development and vanity.

For the Clippers, though, it’s a 9.5. Might be a 10. It’s stamped on the calendars embedded in their minds.

They need this game, psychologically, to prove they can stand up to the team that has spent the past two seasons winning a championship and setting a record for regular-season wins, simultaneously suppressing the notion of the Clippers being legitimately elite.

Los Angeles also needs to win the clash at Staples Center if these Western Conference titans are to reignite what once was the hottest rivalry in the NBA.

“We get to see what they do; they get to see what we do,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr says.

“It’s a new four-game journey against this team,” guard Stephen Curry says. “We have history that, when you play in the division, year after year, we’re fighting for the same goal of not only winning the division but playoff seeding and coming out of the west. It’s been a nice little back and forth.”

It has been mostly forward for the Warriors, generally backward for the Clippers.

A rivalry is defined somewhat by geography but mostly by hostilities over both the regular season and the postseason. In the very best rivalries, the teams are hunting the same bounty and end up exchanging feelings of ecstasy and heartbreak.

That has been missing the past two seasons, with the Warriors winning seven of the eight games and the last six in a row. It has been Curry over Chris Paul, Draymond Green over Blake Griffin, Klay Thompson over J.J. Redick and Kerr over Clippers coach Doc Rivers.

The contempt that began percolating back in 2012, reaching its apex in 2014 during a spellbinding seven-game playoff series won by LA, has been submerged by this wave of Warriors success.

The “rivalry” has declined considerably, leaving nothing but memories of the days when the teams were striving to reach the same level.

“We were a team trying to break through and make the playoffs,” Klay Thompson says. “They were trying to do the same thing, as far as trying to make noise in the playoffs. We both had an edge to ourselves and we haven’t lost it. They’re still hungry to get to that championship level. You can see that. And so are we.”

Curry traces the origin of the rivalry to Paul’s arrival in December 2011. The decorated point guard brought instant credibility to a franchise that had been every bit as much of a laughingstock as had the Warriors.

“When CP got there and the organization took a different turn, for the better obviously,” Curry recalls. “It was probably that first year we both made the playoffs (2012-13) because the records were a lot better than they usually were and there was a little more excitement around the new and up-and-coming teams.”

Games have featured ejections, multiple technical fouls – once in a preseason game – with an overdose of grabbing and posturing. One beef went postgame, nearly becoming physical in a hallway near the locker rooms.

There has been verbal warfare, sarcasm and slights and insults, though most of it lately has come from LA.

With the Warriors at 18-3 and the Clippers at 16-6, this may be the last season to reignite the conflict, and the first of four meetings will provide a sense of placement. The Warriors are 18-3, having won 14 of their last 15. The Clippers are 16-6, having lost four of their last six.

“It’ll be fun to see how it plays out,” Kerr says.

The Clippers, however, showed up for this season with a sense of urgency. Paul and Griffin both have opt-out clauses and will be free agents in July. The perennial All-Stars have been teammates for five-plus seasons, but this may be the last.

“Their continuity is really key; it’s one of the things that has helped us the last couple years,” Kerr says. “When you have basically the same team for a while, and you’re already a good team, you tend to get better. You tend to grow more and more comfortable with what you’re already doing and then, maybe even have the ability to add on some things.”

So maybe it’ll be different this season. Maybe we’ll have actual back-and-forth.

“They could be a team down the road that we need to get through to get where we want to go, and they probably see us the same way,” Curry says.

Oh, there is no doubt about that, certainly not among the Clippers.

A's reeling after death of minor league video coordinator Mark Smith


A's reeling after death of minor league video coordinator Mark Smith

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — A’s officials at the winter meetings carried heavy hearts Tuesday following the death of minor league video coordinator Mark Smith.

Smith died unexpectedly Monday in Arizona at the age of 41. No cause of death was known, a team spokesperson said, and the A’s traveling contingent at the meetings were still processing the news Tuesday night.

“We’re still sort of absorbing this whole thing. As you can imagine this came as a shock to everybody,” said Billy Beane, the A’s executive vice president of baseball operations. “He had such a commitment to the organization and was such a diligent worker. He’s a tremendous loss. Everybody thought the world of him as an employee, a person. It’s shocking.”

Smith worked for the A’s for eight years and was instrumental in creating the team’s minor league video department in 2009. Manager Bob Melvin, who crossed paths with Smith every spring at the team’s minor league training complex, said Smith went above and beyond the expectations of his job to help everyone in the organization.

“He was the first guy you saw,” Melvin said. “Just a great guy that everybody felt close to. He couldn’t do enough to help wherever he could. … He’d send me video during the year of guys he thought I might see at some point, and I never even asked for them. Just a hard-working guy who was very aware of what each guy he was working with was looking for and needed.”

Funeral services are pending.