Ex-Cal LB Rivera hired to coach Carolina Panthers

Ex-Cal LB Rivera hired to coach Carolina Panthers

Jan. 11, 2011CAROLINA PAGE NFL PAGE

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (APCSN) -- The Carolina Panthers have entrusted Ron Rivera with turning around the NFL's worst team, making the San Diego defensive coordinator the second Latino head coach in NFL history.

Rivera was introduced on Tuesday. He replaces John Fox, who was let go earlier this month after Carolina went 2-14 in his ninth season.

It's the first head coaching job for the 49-year-old Rivera, who is of Puerto Rican and Mexican heritage. He joins ex-Raiders and Seahawks boss Tom Flores as the only Latino head coaches.

Rivera ran the Chargers' defense since midway through the 2008 season, with San Diego ranking tops in the NFL in total defense and pass defense this season. The ex-Bears linebacker also was defensive coordinator in Chicago from 2004-06.

"It gives me comfort that he was a former player," said owner Jerry Richardson, a former Baltimore Colts receiver. "He brings an approach and resume that we believe lends itself to success for our football team and organization."

Rivera was an All-American linebacker at Cal who formerlay held the school's all-time sack and career tackles records. Rivera holds the Bears' record for most tackles for loss in a season, which he set in 1983.

Rivera was one of four defensive coordinators to be interviewed by Panthers general manager Marty Hurney and team president Danny Morrison last week. The others Perry Fewell of the New York Giants, San Francisco's Greg Manusky and Rob Ryan of Cleveland were not asked in for second interviews.
REWIND: In limbo with 49ers, Manusky interviews with Carolina

Rivera arrived in Charlotte Monday, with the team proceeding with meetings and interviews despite a crippling snow and ice storm that shut down much of the city the past two days.

ESPN reported Rivera received a four-year, 11.2 million deal to become the fourth head coach in franchise's 16-year history. Fox was 78-74 with a Super Bowl appearance and two other playoff berths, but the team never had consecutive winning seasons and last made the postseason in 2008.

"I want to thank Mr. Richardson for this opportunity," Rivera said.

News of the impending hire spread quickly, with quarterback Jimmy Clausen congratulating Rivera on his Twitter account Tuesday.

"Look forward to meeting him and getting to work," Clausen wrote.

How Rivera fills out his offensive staff to deal with Clausen and the NFL's worst offense will be one of his first key moves. Richardson said last week that he wanted an upgrade after Carolina had 16 offensive touchdowns this season.

Rivera declined to comment on potential staff members.

Despite running a 3-4 defense in San Diego, Rivera said the Panthers will continue to use a 4-3 based on their personnel.

Giants Notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday

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Giants Notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday

CHICAGO -- Joe Panik's leadoff homer in the series opener was a jolt, but the Giants are a much more dangerous offense when Denard Span is clicking atop the lineup, a spot ahead of Panik, and they hope to have that duo going Wednesday. Span got treatment all day Tuesday and said he could return to the lineup against Kyle Hendricks. 

"The swelling has gone down," Span said of his sprained left thumb. "The thing to do is to come in tomorrow, test it out, and if it feels good, you strap it on."

Span said an X-ray came back clean, but he didn't grab a bat Tuesday to test the thumb, focusing instead on treatment. He is batting .326 in nine games since coming off the DL. His replacement in center this week, Gorkys Hernandez, was 0-for-3 against Jon Lester, lowering his average to .160. 

--- The main story from the second game of this series: Johnny Cueto is now dealing with a second blister, and you can see the lack of movement on his pitches. The Cubs took advantage. Lester didn't need much help while throwing a 99-pitch complete game in two hours and five minutes. 

"He threw a lot more changeups than we've seen in the past," Buster Posey said. "He's shown it in the past but tonight he had good command of it. It wasn't just a show-me pitch. He used it a lot and threw it to lefties as well.

Posey twice grounded short rollers in front of the plate.

--- Posey's throw to nab Javy Baez on Monday was one of the best of the year, and on Tuesday afternoon, Bruce Bochy said, "If he's given a chance, I don't think there's anyone better in the game." That might be true, but Willson Contreras is threatening to get into the conversation. He threw an 85 mph rocket to second in the fifth to nab Eduardo Nuñez. If you're wondering how Lester -- who flat-out has the yips about throwing to first base and doesn't do it -- has allowed just six stolen bases this season, look no further than his young catcher. Long-term, Contreras is the guy I would expect to compete with Posey for Gold Gloves. 

"Nuney, with his speed, can go," Bochy said. "Their catcher made a great throw. Put it right on the money."

--- From before Tuesday's game, what do the relievers think of the new hidden bullpen at Wrigley? And if you missed the Power Rankings the other day, the records are outdated, but there are updates in here on old friends Matt Duffy, Chris Heston, Tommy Joseph, Adalberto Mejia, Yusmeiro Petit and others. Petit in particular is incredible ... just keeps doing his thing. 

--- This play was made by the shortstop. That's good for the old UZR.

Injuries to Hahn, Alonso compound A's loss to Marlins

Injuries to Hahn, Alonso compound A's loss to Marlins

OAKLAND — Their pitching staff got banged up throughout the night, but the A’s hope the only lasting damage they absorbed Tuesday night was on the scoreboard.

In the process of an 11-9 defeat to the Miami Marlins, they lost starting pitcher Jesse Hahn to a strained triceps and first baseman Yonder Alonso to a contusion on his right hand and wrist.

The early diagnosis showed they may have dodged a bullet with Alonso — X-rays came back negative for a fracture after he was hit flush in the wrist area on a pitch from lefty Jarlin Garcia. Alonso initially walked off the field after being hit, but after a few moments re-emerged and took first base to run. He was replaced on defense in the seventh.

“I’ve had some history with my hand,” Alonso said afterward. “I broke it three or four years ago. At the time when I got hit, I felt like that was the case all over again. The pain started going away, that’s when I realized I think I’m OK.”

Alonso’s wrist and hand began to swell while he was running the bases, and he had to exit the game. The first baseman had missed the four previous games with a sore left knee, then proceeded to homer in his first at-bat Tuesday, pulling him back into a tie with Khris Davis for the team homer lead at 13. Suffering another injury in the same game could be classified as rotten timing, but Alonso came away feeling fortunate all things considered.

“I think we got very lucky,” he said. “It got me right on the wrist but a little bit on the hand as well. We’re lucky that there’s no break. You just gotta move forward.”

Manager Bob Melvin said Alonso would be a game-time decision for whether he’ll start Wednesday afternoon’s series finale, but with the A’s off Thursday, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they rested Alonso in an attempt to let him heal up for Friday’s road trip opener against the Yankees.

Hahn’s condition seems more ambiguous, and perhaps more troubling. He said he felt fine warming up before Tuesday’s game, but when he took the mound to warm up before the third, he experienced a drop in velocity and couldn’t figure out why.

“I experienced some tightness near my triceps and a big velocity decrease,” Hahn said. “The ball wasn’t coming out (well) at all. It was a weird feeling. I’ve dealt with elbow (problems) before. Usually for me when I have elbow pain I can feel it on my pitches, and I didn’t feel it. It was kinda weird. … It almost felt like a dead arm.”

Hahn gave up a leadoff single to Christian Yelich in the third, then was taken out of the game. Afterward, he and the training staff discussed the possibility of getting an MRI but nothing had been set in stone.

“I’m throwing the ball as hard as I can and I see 89-90 on the board,” Hahn said. “I know something’s not right. But at the same time, I’m not feeling anything. It leaves you thinking. To be in that state of mind on the mound is not good.”

Should the A’s need to fill Hahn’s rotation spot the next time through, and should they want to dip into the minor league ranks, Daniel Mengden is on the same turn with Triple-A Nashville and threw seven scoreless innings Tuesday (81 pitches). He’s on the 40-man roster. Jharel Cotton and Daniel Gossett also are coming off great outings for Nashville, though their turns in the rotation don’t line up as good with Hahn’s.