Crisp robbed of go-ahead HR, A's fall to ChiSox


Crisp robbed of go-ahead HR, A's fall to ChiSox


CHICAGO (AP) Brent Lillibridge is fast becoming a favorite in Chicago.Lillibridge helped make John Danks a winner with a homer-saving catch in the eighth inning, and the Chicago White Sox beat the Oakland Athletics 3-2 on Saturday night.Lillibridge robbed Oakland's Coco Crisp with a leaping catch above the wall. With Daric Barton on second and one out in the eighth, Crisp lofted a flyball deep to left-center. Lillibridge retreated to the wall, leaped and snared Crisp's drive before it cleared the fence."I'm speechless," Danks said. "I really am. That was unbelievable. Coco hit it on the barrel. When he hit it, I thought it was halfway up the concourse. Luckily the weather kind of knocked it down. Brent made a hell of a play out there."That turned out to be the last batter Danks (2-8) faced. He allowed just four hits, struck out four and walked two in 7 2-3 innings. He won his second straight start after going winless in his first 11 starts to start the season."I don't want to overshadow what John did tonight," Lillibridge said. "He was outstanding tonight. He gave us a chance. It was a lot of fun to do something to impact that game."Modesty aside, Lillibridge's teammates recognize his key contributions, coming at several different positions."Obviously Paul (Konerko), Alexei (Ramirez) and (Carlos) Quentin are having just huge years, but you have to think of him as a team MVP at this point," Danks said. "We were all talking among ourselves, you have to kind of find him a spot in the field everyday."Lillibridge, an infielder in the minor leagues, has started at four different positions this season, including all three outfield spots. In addition to his defense, he's hitting .273 with seven homers in 88 at-bats. He walked twice, stole a base and scored a run on Saturday."This kid is the best outfielder we have," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said."He can play center field, left field, right field. Wherever we decide to plug him, it comes very easy to him now."Ramon Castro hit his third homer of the season, a solo shot in the fourth. Alex Rios had two hits and a walk for Chicago, his third straight game with two hits.Athletics starter Gio Gonzalez (5-5) is winless in his last five starts. Oakland issued nine walks, has lost 11 of 12 games and fell to 1-2 under interim manager Bob Melvin."I don't have much history, but maybe not (Gonzalez's) best command," Melvin said. "He certainly battled and made pitches when he needed to. "Chicago's Jesse Crain worked 1 1-3 hitless innings, picking up his first save one night after White Sox closer Sergio Santos blew a two-run, ninth-inning lead in Oakland's 7-5 win on Friday."Danks pitched very well," Guillen said. "Crain came out and closed the game. Outstanding by everyone. Great job coming back after last night's game."Gonzalez was wild during most of his 115-pitch outing. He allowed three runs in 5 1-3 innings, five hits, a career-high seven walks, hit a batter, committed a balk and threw two wild pitches."Maybe one walk changed the game, that was basically it," Gonzalez said. "Other than that, got some groundball double-plays, made some things happen. It wasn't pretty, but it kept the team in the game."Gonzalez was removed with one out in the fifth, during which Chicago scored the go-ahead run without the benefit of a hit. Lillibridge drew a one-out walk, then stole second and went to third on Kurt Suzuki's throwing error.Gonzalez was replaced by reliever Brad Ziegler with a 1-0 count on Ramirez, who walked. Quentin hit a comebacker to Ziegler, who threw wide to second for an error, allowing Lillibridge to score and put Chicago ahead 3-2."We actually got the groundball, he was just a little quick going to second base," Melvin said. "We were just a little sloppy in the field. I will say, to an extent, the balls are pretty wet. Both sides have to play in it. When you make three errors, you don't win a lot of games."Danks held the Athletics hitless through the first three innings, allowing just two walks. Cliff Pennington led off the fourth with Oakland's first hit, a single. He stole second and scored on Josh Willingham's single. Pennington just beat the throw of Lillibridge.That tied the score at 1, but Castro broke the deadlock with a leadoff homer in the bottom half of the fourth.Oakland knotted the game in the sixth. Crisp doubled just inside the third-base line to lead off, went to second on Pennington's sacrifice and scored on Hideki Matsui's sacrifice fly to right.Gonzalez's control problems led to Chicago's first run in the third, when Ramirez scored the first run on a wild pitch.The White Sox stranded 12 runners , the one negative on a night Chicago closed within 4 12 games of first in the AL Central."We said all along we're a good team," Danks said. "I think wholeheartedly before this is said and done, we're going to be in the middle of it. It's going to be a fun summer."NOTES: Guillen told the media before Saturday's contest that he's in favor of the proposal for baseball to add an additional wild-card team in each league, saying "it'd be great for baseball." Guillen said that he'd like to give Santos a couple of days off after he threw 65 pitches over his last two outings and blew a save in Friday's 7-5 loss to Oakland. Guillen added that he still didn't want to label Santos as his closer even though "he's the one we've been using a lot." Konerko singled in the fifth, extending his hitting streak to 12 games.

Chip Kelly: 'Zero distraction' from Colin Kaepernick last season

Chip Kelly: 'Zero distraction' from Colin Kaepernick last season

Former 49ers head coach Chip Kelly was front and center last season with the controversy that surrounded quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the 2016 season. 

Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem as a stance against racial injustice in the United States. The former 49ers quarterback first sat while the anthem played in a preseason game and then decided to kneel throughout the regular season. 

“There was zero distraction," Kelly said to the Monday Morning Quarterback. "He met with the team immediately after [his first protest]. He met with the other team leaders. He explained his position and where he was coming from." 

After Kaepernick met with his teammates, Kelly saw one focus in his signal caller -- football only. 

"Literally, that was it. Colin was focused on football. He was all about the team and trying to help us win," Kelly said. 

Kaepernick is currently a free agent after opting out of his contract this offseason. Kelly believes Kaepernick is still plenty capable of leading an NFL team. 

"Do I think he is one of the top 64 quarterbacks in the world? There is no question. Does he have the ability to play quarterback on a winning team in the NFL? There is no question," Kelly said. 

In 2016, Kaepernick played in 12 games for Kelly, starting 11 of them under center. He threw for 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. On the ground, Kaepernick added 468 yards rushing and two more scores. 

Giants Notes: Marrero gets a big chance; Rollins goes home


Giants Notes: Marrero gets a big chance; Rollins goes home

SAN FRANCISCO -- After more than six weeks in the desert the Giants returned to their chilly home park on Thursday, and manager Bruce Bochy wasn't ready to take some of the mystery out of heated spring races. 

Bochy said he knows who his fifth starter is, but he won't publicly announce it until Friday. Asked about the situation, general manager Bobby Evans offered only that "we're in the same camp" on who that player is. 

In the outfield, it appears Chris Marrero is a near-lock to make the roster after an eight-homer spring, but again, the Giants aren't ready to announce anything. Marrero gets another chance to prove himself Thursday. He's facing a lefty starter, which would be his role, and he's playing left field at AT&T Park for the first time. Is Bochy more interested in the defense or the at-bats against a lefty?

"Both," he said. "I want to take a look at Marrero in left field and see his at-bats. It's not so much the results, but just to see him here on this stage and in this ballpark."

Bochy was behind the cage when Marrero took BP, and while it is only BP, he put on a Madison Bumgarner-like show. 

Bochy also hopes to get Jae-Gyun Hwang into left field one of the next two nights. Hwang is headed for Triple-A when this series is over, where he'll play first, third and left. "If he continues (hitting like this) down in Sacramento, with that bat, you've got to find a spot for him," Bochy said. 

Sense a theme here? Somebody who hits from the right side is going to get a lot of time this year, and while Mac Williamson and Michael Morse are hurt, the two newcomers have a chance to make a statement. Justin Ruggiano is still in the mix, too, although it sounds like he's headed for Triple-A to get 50 or so at-bats to strengthen his shoulder. 

--- Will Smith had Tommy John surgery in Los Angeles yesterday. The procedure went without surprises, and the initial read from doctors is that Smith should be back in the big leagues next May. This far out, it's hard to be exact, though. 

--- Eduardo Nuñez said his shoulder feels great after a couple of late-camp cortisone shots and he'll start at third the next two nights. Nuñez will play four or five innings at shortstop on Saturday. If Kelby Tomlinson is optioned, Nuñez would be the backup to Brandon Crawford, along with starting at third. 

--- Jimmy Rollins was given the option of coming up here for this series and finishing his spring in Oakland, near his home. Rollins was told he would not make the team. He went back to the Tampa area, however, and he won't play in this series. 

--- Tyler Beede was out on the field early taking photos and soaking it in. Beede hasn't been to AT&T Park since shooting a cameo for "Silicon Valley." The Giants will start him Saturday, with the idea that it should knock some nerves off for his eventual debut. Beede will be joined by a bunch of minor leaguers, including Christian Arroyo, Ryder Jones, Reyes Moronta, Kyle Crick and Austin Slater. Steven Duggar would have been here, but he has a flexor injury and will miss the start of the season. 

--- Brandon Belt will hit second at the start of the year, Bochy said. Belt walked into the park with Santiago Casilla, which threw everyone off in the hallway leading up to the clubhouse. Casilla eventually kept going, all the way to the visitor's clubhouse. I talked to him briefly, and he said that it'll be a weird series for him. Casilla will pitch an inning Friday night. He deserves a big ovation.

--- Javier Lopez was my latest podcast guest. You can stream it here or download it on iTunes here. If you like the podcast, please consider leaving a rating! 

--- Finally, as part of our rebranding, my Twitter account has changed. It's still the same account, just a new name. The tweets about reliever at-bats are not going anywhere.