Urban: Sandoval's return pumps life into Giants

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Urban: Sandoval's return pumps life into Giants

June 14, 2011

URBAN ARCHIVE
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Mychael Urban
CSNBayArea.com

Knowing his teammates expected the world from him, if not a couple of moons and perhaps a star or six, he went out and delivered on virtually every front.Pressure?No. Not to Pablo Sandoval.He gets it.Pressure is struggling to make rent on your one-bedroom apartment, in which your three kids are staring longingly into an empty refrigerator.Being asked to breathe a little life into a clubhouse, boost a struggling offense and make a few plays? That's straight-up fun for the Panda, and he shows it in every way.Before Tuesday's 6-5 win over the host Diamondbacks, Sandoval, in his first game back since surgery to remove a broken bone near his wrist, gave Giants manager Bruce Bochy a big hug in the dugout. That Bochy accepted it spoke volumes about what the man-child of a third baseman brings to the defending world champs.NEWS: Giants hold off D'backs, preserve win for Cain
Bochy, you might have noticed, isn't exactly the cuddly type. His fairly gruff appearance and demeanor suggest he's far more likely to kill a bear than to hug a Panda, but hug Sandoval he did.Similarly, the rest of the Giants embraced the notion of Sandoval's return, hoping his energy, positivity and goofy perma-grin would somehow make the still-fresh memory of Freddy Sanchez -- the Giants' second All-Star candidate to go down in a heap of pain in the past three weeks -- fade. That's a lot to ask. Pretty much impossible, in fact. But Sandoval did what he could, loving every minute of it.First he set an early tone with an RBI single in his first at-bat back.
GIANTS INSIDER GALLERY: Sandoval's return
After lining out in his second at-bat, he drew a walk and scored in the fifth inning.That's right. A walk. Patient Panda? Eh. Probably not. Ever. But a more patient Panda is progress enough.Just as important, Sandoval played a rock-solid third base, highlighted by the tremendous play he made on a tough short-hop before making a stellar off-balance throw, getting a force at second base for the first out of the eighth after a leadoff walk. The D'Backs didn't score in the inning. Nor did they score in the ninth, when Sandoval made a selfless play that ended up meaning nothing but deserves mention.He took a spike to the leg from Kelly Johnson, who was advancing to third on a wild pitch, because he expertly blocked the base with his foot. The umpire missed the call, and the game ended shortly thereafter, so it didn't really matter that the call was blown. But you can bet the play mattered to Sandoval's teammates.The guy's fresh off the DL and he's putting himself in harm's way trying to nail down a win? Some might call that overzealous. In baseball your teammates consider it heroic.A real-life hero, of course, finds a way to make that rent, to fill that fridge.But in Sandoval, the Giants were looking for a baseball hero Tuesday, and they got one. A big, silly, smiling one that you can't help but want to hug back.

Inactives: Raiders LG Kelechi Osemele a late scratch due to illness

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USATSI

Inactives: Raiders LG Kelechi Osemele a late scratch due to illness

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Raiders left guard Kelechi Osemele was questionable to play Thursday night’s game at Kansas City with a knee sprain.

His knee is doing just fine, thank you.

Even still, Osemele wasn’t ready to play. He was a late scratch due to an illness, which sapped him to the point he couldn’t go.

Osemele was listed about the Raiders inactives, announced shortly before kickoff.

That creates a huge void in the offensive line – the Raiders run best between Osemele and left tackle Donald Penn – that will be filled by rookie Vadal Alexander.

Alexander is an aggressive player and a good run blocker, but he isn’t on Osemele’s level. Not having the high-priced player could hinder the Raiders offensive line, which must remain strong for the attack to operate well. The Raiders have allowed a league-low 13 sacks this season. 

Defensive tackle Darius Latham was questionable with an ankle injury, but wasn’t quite ready to play this game. This marks his second contest missed with injury.

Strong safety Karl Joseph was ruled out earlier in the week with a toe injury. Cornerback Antonio Hamilton, Shilique Calhoun, Connor Cook and Stacy McGee are also inactive.

Top pick Meier 'real close' to making Sharks debut

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Top pick Meier 'real close' to making Sharks debut

SAN JOSE – Struggling to score goals lately with two or fewer in eight of their last 11 games, the Sharks may soon turn to their biggest prospect to try and give the offense a boost.

Timo Meier, the ninth overall pick from the 2015 draft, is tearing up the American Hockey League lately with the Barracuda. He scored four goals (and registered 15 shots) in two games in San Antonio over the weekend, has eight points (5g, 3a) in his last four games, and leads the Barracuda with eight goals.

On Thursday, Pete DeBoer was asked what he’s heard about Meier lately and how close he may be.

“Good things, and real close,” DeBoer said. “I think he would have been even a consideration [Wednesday], but he came down I think with the flu. 

“You feel for him because we’re looking to bring some guys in, and he obviously had a great weekend. He’s one of quite a few guys down there that we feel real comfortable can come in here and are going to help us before the year ends, for sure.”

It’s the second time an illness has affected Meier’s status, as he came down with mononucleosis early in training camp and missed a month of action. He did, however, return to Barracuda practice this week.

One month ago, Barracuda coach Roy Sommer told CSN that Meier had to make some adjustments coming out of juniors. 

“He’s just has to simplify his game,” Sommer said on Nov. 9. “I think he’s just trying to do too much. He’s got to be north-south, and [forget] this circling and trying to put pucks through people. … It’s not going to work.”

Apparently, Meier has figured it out. On Tuesday, Sommer told The Gackle Report: “He’s getting better every game. At the start, I was going, oh man, he’s all over the map, circling and not using his teammates. But shoot, now he just keeps producing.”

“We’ve spent a lot of time with him on video and he picks stuff up.”

The 2015 draft has already produced several players that are regular contributors for their respective clubs, led by Connor McDavid (Edmonton), Jack Eichel (Buffalo), Mitch Marner (Toronto) and Zach Werenski (Columbus). 

Meier is the only player among the top 11 picks that year that has yet to play an NHL game, while 17 of 30 of the players overall chosen in the first round have played at least one NHL game.