Barton hurt, Outman rocked in A's split squad loss

Barton hurt, Outman rocked in A's split squad loss

PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) Heath Bell said he was nervous. It didn't show in his performance.Bell struck out a pair of hitters in a scoreless inning and the San Diego Padres rallied for a 7-6 win over the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.The two-time NL All-Star had missed San Diego's first seven exhibition games with a strained left calf. Bell, who was second in the NL with 47 saves and tied for eighth in voting for the NL Cy Young Award, threw 10 of 12 pitches for strikes."I felt really good," he said. "I wanted to go out there and throw low strikes and I think I accomplished that except for the breaking stuff."Padres starting pitcher Mat Latos wasn't as sharp. Latos was pulled after getting just two outs. He allowed three runs on two hits and two walks. In his previous start, Latos walked four batters.Latos, who was 14-10 with a 2.92 ERA last season, felt like he made the proper technical adjustments but wasn't getting calls from plate umpire Ron Kulpa."I executed what I needed to do," Latos said. "I was finishing, following through. I feel like I was throwing a lot more strikes than what was being called. There's nothing I can do about it."Padres manager Bud Black doesn't see any issues with Latos' pitches. But he does believe Latos isn't pitching in rhythm and has some issues he must resolve before his next outing."Mat again was a little too erratic," Black said. "He doesn't look comfortable.Athletics first baseman Daric Barton left the game early after getting hit in the calf by Logan Forsythe while leaping for a high throw in the fourth inning."He just got kicked in the calf," Skinner said. "It's nothing serious."Oakland would like to see Bobby Cramer replicate his outing Sunday as much as possible. The left-hander, who is fighting for the fifth spot in the A's starting rotation, allowed a hit and a walk in three scoreless innings."Cramer threw the ball well out there," Oakland bench coach Joel Skinner said. "And he fielded his position so everything went good."Cramer's main competition for the spot, Josh Outman, didn't fare as well. Outman allowed four runs on five hits and three walks and only lasted 1 1-3 innings.San Diego's Jorge Cantu belted a two-run shot off Outman in the second inning. The Padres won in the ninth inning on Mike Baxter's one-out sacrifice fly to right field.Josh Willingham, Kevin Kouzmanoff and Kurt Suzuki each had an RBI for Oakland. Suzuki went 2 for 3 with a double. San Diego is hopeful center fielder Cameron Maybin can return to the lineup Monday after missing five games with concussion-like symptoms.Maybin took batting practice Sunday after a second straight day of improved health. It was the second time Maybin has swung a bat since he hit his head on a post on the outfield fence during a pregame workout Wednesday morning. Maybin said he experienced blurry vision and headaches for 72 hours after hitting his head."The last two days I've felt pretty good," Maybin said. "Hopefully I'll be back out there soon."Maybin said he took 50-60 swings in the batting cage Saturday. The Padres have held Maybin out of the lineup as a precaution."Hopefully (Monday) he can get in there," Black said.

Durant: Scoring with Warriors 'not much of a grind' compared to Thunder years

Durant: Scoring with Warriors 'not much of a grind' compared to Thunder years

Over 62 regular season games this season, Kevin Durant averaged 25.1 points while shooting just under 54 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from deep.

In 72 games with the Thunder in 2015-16, Durant averaged 28.2 points per game and shot 50.5 percent from the field and just under 39 percent from 3-point territory.

Durant recently sat down with The Vertical's Michael Lee, who asked him the following question:

Lee: "I know we talked earlier and you said this move wasn’t about a ring chase, it was more about how you want to play basketball for your career. How do you feel it has played out for your game, in terms of maybe shots coming easier? Because it seems like you’re getting your points, but it’s not as much of a grind. Am I right in saying that?"

Durant: "Uh, yeah. Obviously, when you’ve got a better, when you’ve got a deeper team, you’ve got guys that can handle the ball, you’ve got shooters, you’ve got guys that can finish at the rim, it just opens it up for everybody. I think we just work well together.

"I scored a lot of points before I came here. I did a lot. This is not the first time I shot 50 percent from the field. It’s not the first year I averaged 25 points a game. And I’m not doing it because I’m here with these guys. I’ve done it before.

"It’s just the fact that when I get my shots – and it’s not as much as I got before – but I’m in position to be efficient. I may get in transition a lot more than I did before. I may get it in space more, so I’m allowed to catch and make a decision whether I want to shoot or drive. Simple stuff like that, that’s the difference.

"But I had some great years before I got here. It’s just a different way I’m getting my points now. It’s not much of a grind. But it’s still a challenge."

Last year, 38 percent of Durant's shots came after zero dribbles, 26.9 percent were "open," 9.6 percent were "wide open," his usage rate was 30.5 percent and he averaged 5.1 transition points per game.

This year, 46.1 percent of his shots came after zero dribbles, 27 percent were considered "open," 10.9 percent were "wide open," his usage rate was 27.6 percent and he averaged 6.5 transition points per game.

He was a quick learner.

"We’ve got smart players. My IQ has grown since I’ve gotten to the league and I realize how important all the moving parts are for the team," Durant explained. "It was an adjustment as far as me being a new guy and having a certain way of playing, talking about the team and adding me in there.

"I’m just figuring how to move without the ball, play in space. But for the most part, it wasn’t that difficult as far as the basketball side, it was just the small details that had to get done."

Bills sign two former 49ers

Bills sign two former 49ers

The Buffalo Bills have signed two 49ers free agents within the past two days.

After signing wide receiver Rod Streater on Wednesday, the Bills announced the signing of linebacker Gerald Hodges on Thursday.

The 49ers acquired Hodges in a 2015 trade with the Minnesota Vikings for center Nick Easton and a sixth-round draft pick. Hodges started 12 games last season and ranked second on the team with 92 tackles.

Hodges left the 49ers shorthanded for a late-season game against the Atlanta Falcons when he violated team rules. Then-coach Chip Kelly did not disclose the nature of Hodges infraction. Hodges offered no explanation or apology.

The 49ers entered the game against the high-powered Falcons with just two healthy inside linebackers due to Hodges’ deactivation. Starter Nick Bellore sustained an elbow injury on the third play of the game, and the 49ers were forced to use safeties Antoine Bethea and Vinnie Sunseri, and outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks at various points of the game.

The 49ers showed no interest in re-signing Hodges as a free agent.

Streater, a five-year NFL veteran, saw action in all 16 games last season after being acquired in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs in September. He caught 18 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns.