Giants Insider notebook: Wilson's back drama


Giants Insider notebook: Wilson's back drama

Feb. 21, 2011

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- First things first: Giants closer Brian Wilson's back is just fine. He threw gas in the 'pen Monday for 20 minutes, pain-free. Time to stop worrying about it. But it's been a strange little mini-drama, hasn't it? And it seemed to get a little stranger by the day -- especially early on, when Wilson was ducking the media.Wilson is a talker. A great talker. So when he doesn't want to talk, it's news. And now, on top of some quiet internal suggestions that Wilson's back pain might have been caused by his macho sprint up nearby Camelback Mountain last week in a race with fellow reliever Jeremy Affeldt, some folks are assuming he partied too hard last Friday when actor Charlie Sheen flew him on a private jet into L.A. for the night. The Camelback Mountain thing might have some merit. The Sheen thing does not. The gossip-mongers at TMZ did what they do; they sensationalized the story and got about 80 percent of the facts wrong.Going to Sheen's house was essentially a business trip, Wilson said, and one he was happy to make. Hey, Ricky Vaughn is a god to men of a certain age, especially men who actually close games in the big leagues and seem to have a screw loose -- just like Sheen's Vaughn character in "Major League." No drugs or alcohol were present at the meeting, Wilson said, just a bunch of Hollywood types picking his brain in preparation for another "Major League" sequel.Thankfully, the saga seems to be over. Wilson's bullpen session was his second in three days, this time with Giants manager Bruce Bochy standing in the batter's box.Wilson threw hard, he threw with command, and he threw without discomfort. He did, however, note that seeing Bochy in the box was "intimidating."Asked why Wilson might feel that way, Bochy smiled and said, "He knows. Any pitch, I can take him deep."COMPETITION IN CENTER?
It's been widely assumed that Andres Torres entered camp as the Giants' starting center fielder. After all, the guy took the job from Aaron Rowand last year, established himself as an excellent defensive player and a quality leadoff man, and helped the team win a world title.Bochy, though, wouldn't confirm that the job is Torres' when he was pressed on the situation after Monday's workout."We'll get into all that as we go deeper into camp here," Bochy said.This, a day after Bochy reversed course on his plans to play Rowand at all three outfield positions, saying he wanted Rowand, who hasn't played on a corner since 2004, to stay where he's comfortable.Bochy bristled just a bit, though, when asked if his refusal to name Torres the starter was an indication that the Giants weren't ready to go all-in with a guy who just had his first productive year in the Majors at age 32."No," said the skipper. "It's not so much a fluke as he finally got a chance to play every day."Moments later, Bochy said something that shed some light on his thinking, suggesting his unwillingness to anoint Torres the starter this early in camp could be out of respect for Rowand."I'm not ready," Bochy said, "to designate anyone a fourth outfielder."INTENSITY TURNED UP
The rain clouds that turned the greater Phoenix area into a cold, wet and gray expanse over the weekend were gone by the time the Giants started their workout at 10 a.m., and their general overall disposition was awfully sunny as they took the field to stretch."I think they're just excited to be back on the field," Bochy said.Once the workout truly kicked in, though, things got as serious as they can possibly get on Feb. 21. No lollygaggers at Scottsdale Stadium. These guys were getting after it in a big way, and the jovial banter that often punctuates spring workouts was replaced by grunts, the popping of gloves and the crack of bats.Several players told me the increased intensity was a must. The team's Cactus League opener is Friday, and there's a lot of work to do."It's time to go," Miguel Tejada said between rounds in the cage. "Time to play ball, to play hard."MIGGY AND THE PANDA
While watching about 30 minutes of Monday's workout with Giants GM Brian Sabean, who rarely misses an opportunity to see his club on the field, I asked him how big of a factor Tejada's potential influence among Latin players was in the decision to sign him.Sabean, who has a habit of using the term "the player" instead of a player's actual name, said the player's ability and durability were at the top of the list, but the leadership issue was certainly an added bonus.The reports on Tejada as a clubhouse guy are off the charts, Sabean told me, and I shared that I'd seen the same thing while covering Tejada when he played for the A's. Sabean thinks Tejada is going to help a ton in term of replacing the leadership of departed veterans Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria. He might even have more of an influence than those guys.If Monday is any indication, Tejada is going to be a busy mentor on this team. Pablo Sandoval, clearly enamored with Tejada, was in the veteran shortstop's ear all day, asking questions and sharing information."He's a good kid," Tejada said. "He looks good, too!"Said Bochy of Tejada, "He'll be good with Pablo -- and all our young players."

Did Kendrick Lamar take shot at Kevin Durant on latest single?

Did Kendrick Lamar take shot at Kevin Durant on latest single?

Hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar's new album "The Heart Part 4" drops on April 7, but his lyrics are already making waves.

Lamar, who hails from Compton, California, appears to take a shot at Kevin Durant for his decision to leave the Thunder and join the Warriors this past offseason in free agency.

From the single titled "IV":

     Tables turned, lessons learned, my best look
     You jumped sides on me, now you 'bout to meet Westbrook
     Go celebrate with your team and let victory vouch you
     Just know the next game played, I might slap the s--- out you
     Technical foul, I'm flagrant, I'm foul
     They throwin' me out, you throw in the towel

If the Warriors face the Thunder again this season, it will be in a playoff series. Golden State swept Oklahoma City 4-0 during the regular season, winning 122-96 on Nov. 3, 121-100 on Jan. 18, 130-114 on Feb. 11, and 111-95 on March 20

Their average margin of victory was just under 20.

Why the Raiders 2013 draft class was disbanded

Why the Raiders 2013 draft class was disbanded

Reggie McKenzie has owned three top 5 picks since becoming Raiders general manager. He used one on Khalil Mack in 2014, another on Amari Cooper a year later. McKenzie got a defensive player of the year and a two-time Pro Bowl receiver.

Pretty nice haul.

His first big draft pick came in 2013, when a 4-12 record the previous year earned the No. 3 overall selection. He turned that into the No. 12 and No. 42 overall selections – the Raiders didn’t have a second-round pick, and also gave up a fifth-rounder in the deal – that garnered cornerback DJ Hayden and Menelik Watson.

Both guys were beset by injury early on, setbacks that kept them from realizing potential identified during the pre-draft process. The Raiders got some quality players from the 2013 draft class – Latavius Murray was a two-year starter and Pro Bowl rusher -- but none of them remain Raiders after their rookie contracts.

Sixth-round tight end Mychal Rivera was the last leave, signing with Jacksonville on Wednesday. The Raiders wanted a few back – Watson and Stacy McGee, in particular – but all of them ended up elsewhere.

That’s not ideal. McKenzie prefers to draft, develop and reward. That didn’t happen for his 2013 draft class. While he didn’t have a first or second round pick, the 2012 draft class has been gone some time now.

He compensated well for that veteran talent void in free agency, bringing in Bruce Irvin, Kelechi Osemele and others of that age.

McKenzie’s draft record after 2013 has improved dramatically. A 2014 group that includes Mack, Derek Carr and Gabe Jackson was franchise altering. The 2015 bunch stands strong, and 2016 has talent but can’t be evaluated quite yet.

Let’s take a look at the 2013 draft class and why it didn’t work out:

CB DJ Hayden (No. 12 overall)
Current team:
Detroit (1 year deal, $3.75 million; $2.25 million guaranteed)
Comment: The Raiders didn’t pick up Hayden’s fifth-year option, proof their first-round pick didn’t work out as planned. Hayden was drafted despite a heart condition stemming from a practice injury in college, but a series of soft-tissue injuries slowed him down. He was ineffective at times, though he played better in his final season as a nickel back.

OL Menelik Watson (No. 42 overall)
Current team:
Denver (3 year deal, $18.3 million, $5.5 guaranteed)
Comment: Watson was an athletic, nasty offensive lineman the Raiders hoped to keep, someone who showed real potential when healthy. Those moments didn’t come often for a player who lost 2015 to injury and never made it through a full season.

LB Sio Moore (No. 66 overall)
Current team:
Free agent
Comment: Moore made an instant impact as a rookie working off the edge. He started on the weakside in 2014, but never seemed to recover from a late-season hip injury. He didn’t fit in well with new head coach Jack Del Rio, and he was traded to Indianapolis before the 2015 season began, he has bounced around ever since, playing as a reserve and special teams player. He remains on the open market.

QB Tyler Wilson (No. 112 overall)
Current team:
Out of football
Comment: Tyler Wilson never fit in at the NFL level and didn’t give the Raiders anything for a mid-round selection. Wilson lost his No. 3 job to undrafted rookie Matt McGloin, spent most of 2013 on the practice squad, and was signed by Tennessee late in the year. Wilson was the highest 2013 draft pick to not make the opening day roster.

TE Nick Kasa (No. 172 overall)
Current team:
Out of football
Comment: The converted defensive end struggled with injury, and suffered a season-ending knee injury during the 2014 preseason. He spent the year on injured reserve and didn’t return to the active roster.

RB Latavius Murray (No. 181 overall)
Current team:
Minnesota Vikings (Three year deal, $15 million, $3.4 million fully guaranteed)
Comment: Murray was the most productive player in the draft class. He missed his rookie year with an ankle injury, but assumed the starting spot by the end of his second season. Murray exceeded 1,000 yards and made the Pro Bowl in 2015, and had nearly 800 yards and 12 touchdowns the following year. He wasn’t a perfect scheme fit for the Raiders, who didn’t pursue him once he hit the open market. Murray signed with the Vikings, and should be a major contributor in that offense.

TE Mychal Rivera (No. 184 overall)
Current team:
Jacksonville Jaguars (Two year deal, worth up to $6.75 million)
Comment: Rivera was a vital receiving option on bad Raiders teams, but fell out of favor under Jack Del Rio. That cut his opportunities way down, giving way to 2015 third-round pick Clive Walford. Rivera has receiving skill but isn’t much of a blocker, and his exit was no a surprise after he was a healthy scratch several times in 2016.

DT Stacy McGee (No. 205 overall)
Current team:
Washington (Five year deal, $25 million, $9 million guaranteed
Comment: McGee flashed interior talent when healthy in 2016, and cashed in with Washington on the first day of unrestricted free agency. The Raiders hoped to bring him back, but he got far more than they were willing to pay. McGee developed well during his time in Oakland, which ultimately priced him out of town.

WR Brice Butler (No. 209 overall)
Current team:
Dallas Cowboys (One year deal, $1.1 million, $300,000 guaranteed)
Comment: Butler was an occasional contributor during two seasons with the Raiders, though the athletic pass catcher was a bit too inconsistent. He finished the 2015 as the fifth receiver, and McKenzie got something for him via trade. Butler remains a Cowboy, and signed a new contract with them this offseason.

DE David Bass No. 233 overall)
Current team:
Free agent
Comment: Bass was cut after the 2013 preseason, but he hung on during the next four seasons with Chicago and Tennessee as a reserve and special teams player.