Urban: Giants' Sandoval to catch upon return?

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Urban: Giants' Sandoval to catch upon return?

June 10, 2011

URBAN ARCHIVE
GIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEO

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Mychael Urban
CSNBayArea.com

A few quick nuggets mined from Giants manager Bruce Bochy's session with the media Friday before the second game of a four-game series against the visiting Reds at AT&T Park:Pablo behind the plate: After noting that Pablo Sandoval (wrist), expected to come off the disabled list Tuesday for the start of a three-game set in Arizona, will see some time at first base to spell struggling Aubrey Huff, Bochy mentioned that there have been internal discussions about getting the Panda back up to speed as a catcher, the position at which he started his professional -- and big-league -- career.

Sandoval wouldn't be asked to get ready for mere emergency duty, either. He could be asked to play as frequently as a "couple times a week," said the skipper, who didn't think it would take much time at all for Pablo to get ready to again don the tools of ignorance."It's not something we've ruled out," said Bochy, who added that far more in-depth conversations would have to take place before the notion became a reality.Interesting development, to say the least, because the last time Sandoval was asked if he had any interest in catching again, he responded as if asked if he'd like to jump into a bathtub full of piranhas and a plugged-in microwave oven.Zito ready: Giants lefty Barry Zito will make his second rehab start for the Single-A Dan Jose Giants on Saturday in Modesto and told CSNBayArea.com that he expects to throw up to 95 pitches.Were Zito needed in the event of an emergency at the big-league level, it's clear he'd be ready in terms of stamina, but he noted that only such a development is likely to cut his rehab assignment any shorter. Well aware of how well the Giants rotation has performed in his absence, he sounds willing to accept any role he's asked to fill, but the Giants currently have no plans to get him any relief work out of the bullpen in preparation for taking on a long-relief role if need be upon his return. Bullet behind schedule: Outfielder Darren Ford (ankle) was eligible to come off the disabled list on June 7, but he's probably more than a week away from returning to the roster or heading out for a rehab stint. Bochy said Ford received a cortisone shot Wednesday or Thursday and will remain shut down for "a couple more days" before possibly being cleared for any sort of activity.Fontenot fine: Infielder Mike Fontenot (groin) is rehabbing with Sandoval at Triple-A Fresno and was lifted from the Grizzlies' game Thursday night after four innings, but Bochy assured the press there had been no setback. "That was the plan, four innings, all along." Fontenot could return for the start of the Arizona series, too.Stretching out: Lefty Dan Runzler, who has worked exclusively out of the bullpen for the Giants, is being "stretched out" in the minors, but no decision has been made as to whether he'll be converted into a starter. It's definitely an option being strongly considered, though, in large part because the team lacks organizational rotation depth in the high minors.

Raiders, Chiefs competition isn’t over yet

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Raiders, Chiefs competition isn’t over yet

The Raiders were clearly frustrated by Thursday night’s proceedings. A pivotal game against Kansas City didn’t go as planned, moving the Chiefs ahead in the AFC West with three games to play.

Few thought the Raiders would be able to win a game played two time zones away, in the bitter cold, on a short week. Players and coaches certainly did. They left Kansas City believing they could’ve and should’ve won.

Tackle Donald Penn wasn’t thrilled following this missed opportunity, and articulated well how the entire team felt.

“My mindset is that I’m pissed right now,” Penn said. “I’m pissed. We had control and we gave it to somebody else.”

Records are now even at 10-3, but Kansas City has a tiebreaker in hand following a season sweep. The Raiders dropped into the wild-card pool and are currently the AFC’s No. 5 seed.

Those facts would only matter if the season ended today. It, you know, doesn’t. That makes the where-are-they-now exercise purely academic, with time for things to change.

“We will continue working,” running back Latavius Murray said. “Like Coach (Del Rio), ‘What we want in our goals and what we’re after, those things are still out there for us.’ We won’t let this determine who we are and what we want to accomplish."

Kansas City can win the division by winning out. They have home games against Tennessee and Denver before wrapping the season at San Diego, teams with a combined 19-17 record and two pushing for the playoffs.

The Raiders have a tough slate ahead, with a game at San Diego, home against Indianapolis and at Denver to end the year. That trio has an identical record to K.C.’s slate, with two common opponents.

So, with that in mind, the Raiders-Chiefs competition will continue through season’s end. How each team fares will determine the AFC West, although Denver shouldn’t be counted out quite yet.

That should make for a fantastic finish in a talented division that should qualify at least two teams for the postseason.

That also means the Raiders and Chiefs might meet again in the rivalry that will define the season for both teams.

“I feel pretty confident that both of our teams will end up in the playoffs,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “There are still three games to be played. We’ll see how it ends up. They have the leg up right now, and did enough to win both games this year. For now, that’s all there is to the story. They’ve earned that. We’ll just have to get back on the right track next week.”

The Raiders may be down, but they definitely aren’t out of the division race. Thursday’s game was heavily hyped and rightfully so, but losing wasn’t a death sentence. A strong response could claim the division title or, at the very least, provide positive momentum heading into the playoffs.

The Raiders and Chiefs could meet again in January, when it truly matters most.

“There is a potential to play again,” quarterback Derek Carr said, “which is awesome.”

NBA Gameday: Streaks on the line when Warriors tussle with Grizzlies

NBA Gameday: Streaks on the line when Warriors tussle with Grizzlies

In rising to the level of NBA elite the past few seasons, the Warriors have had to vanquish many ghosts along the way. The Memphis Grizzlies once fell into that category.

After a five-year stretch during which they lost 14 of 17 games against the Grizzlies – including eight in a row in Memphis – the Warriors now treat FedEx Forum like any other road venue. They’ve won four of the last five at the “Grindhouse.”

They’ll try to continue their recent domination when the teams meet Saturday night. Largely behind spells of fantastic defense, the Warriors (20-3) have won 16 of the last 17, including the last four in a row.

Though punctured by injuries, the Grizzlies (16-8) have managed to overachieve, winning five in a row under first-year head coach David Fizdale, a former Warriors assistant.

BETTING LINE:
Warriors by 12.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Zaza Pachulia vs. Marc Gasol. Already one of the best centers in the league, Gasol’s work at both ends has kept the Grizzlies afloat despite injuries to several key teammates. Though Pachulia will get the initial assignment, expect the Warriors to send a variety of defenders at “Big Spain.” Containing him is surest way for the Warriors to maintain control of the game.

LAST 10:
Warriors: 9-1. Grizzlies: 7-3.

OF NOTE:
Only two NBA players are averaging better than 19 points, four assists, 1.5 blocks while shooting at least 40 percent beyond the arc: Warriors forward Kevin Durant and Gasol.

INJURY REPORT:
Warriors: F Andre Iguodala (rest) and F Kevon Looney (R ankle sprain) are listed as out.

Grizzlies: F Vince Carter (R hip flexor strain) and G Troy Daniels (illness) are listed as questionable. G Mike Conley (lower back injury), F James Ennis III (R calf strain). F Chandler Parsons (L knee bone bruise) and F Brandan Wright (L ankle surgery) are listed as out.

SERIES HISTORY:
The Warriors have won the last six in a row and eight of the last nine.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
Class is in session? With Conley out, rookie Andrew Harrison gets the primary assignment against Stephen Curry. Harrison is rangy enough (6-foot-6) to present problems. The Kentucky product also is the kind of blue-chip recruit Curry loves to take to school.

Who becomes the equalizer? Iguodala excels in the role of stabilizing the offense and creating havoc on defense. He’s unique enough that his absence will be felt. The Warriors need someone to fill that void. Pat McCaw and Shaun Livingston are the top candidates.

Beware the grind: Memphis is terrific at keeping it close and finding a finishing kick. They’re 12-0 in games that go into overtime or are decided by five or fewer points. So far this month they’ve come back to win despite trailing in the fourth quarter by 14 against Orlando, 13 against Portland and 10 against New Orleans.