Giants notebook: Bochy's roster dillemmas


Giants notebook: Bochy's roster dillemmas

Feb. 20, 2011

SCOTTSDALE -- The warm reunions are over, everyone knows what everyone else did over the winter, and the skipper has delivered his big speech.Now that all of the Giants have settled into camp at Scottsdale Stadium, it's finally time to set aside the glorious memories of Game 5 in Arlington and focus on the drama about to unfold over the next five weeks in the desert.Simply put, there are more players deserving to be Giants than the Giants can carry, many of them are in some way tied to the fate of multiple other players, and nobody's quite sure who will play where and when.Mark DeRosa, the starting left fielder on Opening Day last year, has been told by manager Bruce Bochy that he'll see much of his time this spring on the infield, presumably in preparation for a super-utility role. Yet Bochy wouldn't rule out the idea of DeRosa being his left-field starter on Opening Day this year, too.Pat Burrell, who lined a single off Tim Lincecum on Saturday and repeated the feat against Jonathan Sanchez on Sunday, is a candidate to start in left, too. That's where he spent most of last season after the Giants picked him up in May, but he lost the job with a miserable World Series and was quite clear that he'd have to earn it back when he signed a one-year, 1 million contract to return for 2011.And no matter how well Burrell plays this spring, there's a chance he still won't get the gig, and if that scenario plays out he'll be bumped to the bench by his best friend on the team.It's the Brandon Belt Effect. If Belt, the white-hot prospect already being unfairly burdened with the "Next Buster Posey" label, proves this spring that he's ready to handle big-league pitching, he'll be installed as the starting first baseman, and incumbent first baseman Aubrey Huff will move to left.Belt's roster status could have a far more profound impact on outfielder Nate Schierholtz and first baseman Travis Ishikawa. If Belt doesn't make the club, Bochy and GM Brian Sabean will have at least one difficult decision to make, and most signs point to Schierholtz being the odd man out. He's out of options, and his late-game defensive skills in right field aren't as valuable now that Cody Ross is the starter in right.Bochy said he wants Schierholtz to play all three outfield positions this spring to help improve his chances of sticking, but that can be seen as a kiss of death, too. And quite frankly, Schierholtz would probably be better served by a fresh start elsewhere.If Belt does make the team, Ishikawa might have to go, too. Like Schierholtz, Ishikawa is out of options, and Belt's defensive prowess negates the need for Ishikawa's slick glove.Of course, a trade of Aaron Rowand could change everything. It's unlikely, though, and not only because of the money Rowand is owed. The Giants won't come out and say it, but they're far too smart to not be hedging their bets at least a little on Andres Torres, whose breakout season at age 32 could just as easily prove to be a flash in the pan as it is to have marked the start of a classic late-bloomer's tale.When Bochy said he's decided not to play Rowand on the corners this spring, saying he wants Rowand to stay in center, where he's comfortable, he might very well have been saying something else between the lines. Like, "Rowand is our only center fielder with a track record."Some of these guys might even be affected by left-hander Madison Bumgarner, for crying out loud. Bumgarner, the projected No. 5 starter, might open the season at Triple-A Fresno because the Giants' schedule includes days off that would make a four-man rotation feasible early on, allowing Bochy to retain an extra position player coming out of camp.Eventually, of course, that extra player will lose his spot upon Bumgarner's return. Unless he goes nuts while Bumgarner is gone.Then the numbers game starts all over again, but it won't be nearly as difficult to decipher -- or handicap -- as the one that just started in Scottsdale.

Spurs destroy Cavs by 29, back within two of Warriors

Spurs destroy Cavs by 29, back within two of Warriors


SAN ANTONIO -- Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points and the San Antonio Spurs dismantled the ailing Cleveland Cavaliers 103-74 on Monday night in a showdown that turned into a major letdown for the defending NBA champions.

LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol added 14 points apiece for the Spurs, who won their fifth straight.

Cleveland (47-26) dropped its second in a row, set a season low for points and fell a half-game behind Boston (48-26) for the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Cavaliers star LeBron James was injured late in the third quarter after taking an elbow to the base of his neck. He remained on the bench for a while receiving medical attention, then headed toward the locker room and didn't return to the game.

His status was not immediately known.

Cleveland has been out of sync recently, losing three of five, and those struggles only got worse against San Antonio. The Spurs led by as many as 33 points to the delight of the sold-out crowd.

San Antonio (57-16) is two games behind Golden State (59-14) for the league's best record entering a home showdown with the Warriors on Wednesday.

Cleveland opted to play its stars rather than sit them for rest, but the trio of James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love sat out the fourth quarter of its second rout in the past two weeks.

James exited with 25 seconds remaining in the third after taking an elbow to his neck from David Lee on a rebound. James continually rubbed the area before collapsing after he crossed midcourt and remained on the floor for about a minute before walking unassisted to the bench. He left for the locker room early in the fourth quarter during a timeout.

James finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in 29 minutes.

The Spurs held the Cavaliers scoreless for three minutes after San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was issued a technical foul during a timeout with 6:38 remaining in the first half.

Leonard hit a right-handed runner as the second quarter closed to give the Spurs a 64-40 lead.

Cavaliers: Cleveland completed its schedule against the West, finishing 16-14. In addition to losing to the Spurs by 29 points, the Cavaliers lost by 35 to Golden State and 30 to the Los Angeles Clippers. . Cleveland F Kyle Korver missed his third straight game with a sore left foot, and the team plans to sit him for several games to see if rest and treatment helps. Korver will sit out Thursday in Chicago and Friday at home against Philadelphia before being re-evaluated, a team spokesman said. The shooting specialist missed seven games earlier this month with an inflamed tendon in his foot. . G Iman Shumpert missed his second consecutive game with a sore right knee. . James needs 24 points to pass Shaquille O'Neal for seventh overall in career scoring. O'Neal has 28,596 career points. . The Cavaliers averaged 116.3 points in their previous four games.

Spurs: San Antonio is holding its opponents to an average of less than 100 points for the 22nd straight season. . Danny Green tied his season high with four blocked shots. . Leonard has scored in double figures in 100 straight games.

Cavaliers: At the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night.

Spurs: Host the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.

Dolphins owner explains why he voted against Raiders' move to Vegas

Dolphins owner explains why he voted against Raiders' move to Vegas

PHOENIX – An overwhelming majority approved the Raiders’ relocation application Monday morning. They were given permission to move from Oakland to Las Vegas by a 31-1 vote at the league owners meetings, a massive show of support for the Silver and Black.

While the stadium and finance committees recommended Raiders relocation and the final meeting went smooth leading up to a vote, there was one voice of dissent.

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross didn’t let his vote do the talking. He explained his rationale to reporters on Monday afternoon.

“I just don’t think everything was done to try and stay in Oakland,” Ross told reporters, via a video posted on San Diego-based 1090-AM’s website. “I was more or less interested in the thought that Oakland deserved…that a deal could’ve been done there.”

Ross said Raiders owner Mark Davis should’ve engaged with Oakland more in trying to find a long-term stadium solution in the East Bay.

“You can only make a deal when the owner wants to make a deal,” Ross said. “Who are you going to negotiate with? How’s it going to happen? The owner has to be a driving force.”

After some difficult negotiations with Oakland, Davis focused his efforts on Las Vegas, where he received $750 million in public funds for stadium construction, with an additional chunk earmarked for infrastructure improvements around a stadium site just off the Las Vegas Strip.

While Ross spent roughly $500 million in private funds to renovate Hard Rock Stadium, his dissent was rooted in part on ideological grounds. He believes stadiums should be largely financed privately.

“I think so,” Ross said. “You get a look around, and there’s very little public money available for teams today. I think owners have to have, when you own a team, you should have the deep pockets to deliver. Now, you need some public money for infrastructure and things like that but, with the cost of stadiums today, our country can’t afford to put all that money in that kind of place.”

Ross said he didn’t vote no to grandstand.

“That doesn’t do me any good. I didn’t do it for that,” Ross said. “I voted how I voted and I voted what I believed. You talk about the fans, and that’s what the National Football League is all about.”