McCarthy, A's hope to contain Bautista, Blue Jays

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McCarthy, A's hope to contain Bautista, Blue Jays

April 5, 2011
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A's (1-2) vs.
TORONTO (2-1)

TORONTO (AP) -- Jose Bautista may have enjoyed the best season of his career in 2010, but it hardly came at the expense of the Oakland Athletics.

Bautista is already off to a strong start in 2011 and will try to reverse his woes against the Athletics when the Toronto Blue Jays open a three-game home series Tuesday night.

The slugger had career highs of a .260 average, a major league-leading 54 homers and 124 RBIs last season. His .115 average against Oakland (1-2) was his worst against an AL opponent, and he had one homer and two RBIs in seven meetings.

NEWS: MLB scoreboard

Bautista is 5 for 11 with two solo homers this season, but he and the Blue Jays don't want to be too reliant on the long ball. Toronto (2-1) has homered six times in its two wins and once in its loss, Sunday's 4-3 defeat to Minnesota.

"We have more tools now; we have more versatile guys," Bautista told the Blue Jays' official website. "We can run and do more stuff."

One of the players added to provide speed is Rajai Davis, who has missed the last two games with a right ankle injury. Davis, though, expects to return Tuesday to face the team he spent his previous two-plus seasons with before being traded to the Blue Jays in the offseason.

Davis was third in the majors in steals with 50 for Oakland in 2010.

Merely putting the ball in play could be a good way to have success against the Athletics, who committed seven errors over the weekend in losing two of three at home to Seattle.

"Our defense has been stinking up the field and the clubhouse," center fielder Coco Crisp said.
REWIND: A's overcome defense to defeat Mariners

Oakland first baseman Daric Barton has three errors to match Toronto third baseman Edwin Encarnacion for the most in the majors.

The A's are beginning a nine-game trip. Oakland went 34-47 on the road a season ago, and knows it must improve to seriously challenge AL champion Texas in the West.

"Playing on the road is obviously more difficult than playing at home, but our guys have played together awhile now, and I think the experience they've gained will help them," manager Bob Geren told Oakland's official website. "We do need to do a better job on the road, that's for sure."

Geren will give Brandon McCarthy his first start with the A's - and first since Oct. 2, 2009. McCarthy was limited to 22 starts over the past three seasons because of shoulder problems, but earned a spot in the rotation in spring training.

"It's a pretty solid rotation I'm joining, and it's exciting to know I have to do my part to hold up my end of the bargain," McCarthy said.

The right-hander is 3-2 with a 3.95 ERA in five starts against Toronto.

RELATED: Brandon McCarthy's player page

The Blue Jays will counter with JoJo Reyes, making his AL debut. Reyes spent his previous four seasons with Atlanta, and made one appearance for the Braves last season as he spent most of it in the minors.

One of the left-hander's five career wins came against Oakland, when he gave up two runs in five innings in a 5-2 victory May 18, 2008.

Toronto won four of seven against Oakland last season.

RELATED: A's upcoming sked

David West is coming up big for the Warriors

David West is coming up big for the Warriors

OAKLAND -- David West is as much a cleanup man as he is a basketball player.

The veteran power forward, masquerading as a center for the Warriors, cleans up behind teammates, cleans the clocks of opponents and probably cleans his plate after every meal. And he’d hit fourth in any manager’s batting order.

The Warriors during their renaissance haven’t had such a personality. They’ve been a fun bunch, enjoying life, each other and their pillaging of the NBA.

West, 36, brings a more laconic dynamic, and it’s on full display as the Warriors lean into the final weeks of this regular season. He’s a leader who is producing and, more and more, winning over a fan base that was somewhat skeptical early this season.

“David West has been playing brilliantly,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Friday night, after West came off the bench for a highly efficient 14-minute stint in a 114-100 win over the Kings.

Showcasing sharp passing, splendid shooting, solid rim protection and his usual old-jerky toughness, West totaled 8 points, four assists, three rebounds, three blocks and one steal. The Warriors were plus-8 when he was on the floor.

Such production, it seems, is a bit of a bonus.

“He’s been very good for us as a veteran leader,” Draymond Green said. “He’s been playing well, but just his presence also has meant a lot to this team.

“D-West is just kind of a no-bull---- type of a guy. He doesn’t say much. But when he does, you know it means a lot. And everybody hears him.”

Said West: “It’s just about adjusting and learning personalities. Obviously, this group has been very successful. I just try to add my 2 cents where I feel like it fits. Try not to over-talk people. I speak to guys directly and just make sure that we’re all on the same page.”

West is in his 14th season. Drafted by the New Orleans Hornets in 2003, he also has played for the Pacers and, last season, the Spurs, before joining the Warriors in July.

The question at the time was whether he still had a lot to give. West is a two-time All-Star and one of the most widely respected players in the league. But did he still have the legs to compete at a high level?

The answer is visible, particularly over the past month, since he returned from fractured left thumb on Feb. 23. West is shooting 53.0 percent from the field, he’s rebounding consistently and he has proven to be a spectacularly good passer -- easily one of the best in the league among big men.

Earlier this week, to quell any lingering concerns about how much athleticism he still has, West rose up and dunked over a crowd of three Dallas Mavericks. It was clock-cleaning at its finest.

“I’m just getting more comfortable,” West said, referring to his game and his locker-room influence. “We’ve developed good chemistry, communicating, harping on our defense more than anything else at this moment, because we feel that’s going to give us a chance if shots aren’t falling.”

West is on a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum, $1.55 million. He sacrificed bigger dollars for a chance at his first championship. He’s doing his part. And he neither takes nor leaves any mess.

Dempsey hat trick lifts US over Honduras in statement win

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AP

Dempsey hat trick lifts US over Honduras in statement win

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE — Bruce Arena's return as U.S. coach reignited American confidence, and his players responded with an emphatic rebound in World Cup qualifying.

Clint Dempsey returned from an irregular heartbeat to score his second international hat trick, 18-year-old phenom Christian Pulisic had one goal and set up three others, and the U.S. routed Honduras 6-0 Friday night to get right back in contention for an eighth straight World Cup berth.

Surprise starter Sebastian Lletget got his first international goal in the fifth minute after Pulisic's shot deflected off the goalkeeper, Michael Bradley doubled the lead in the 27th and Dempsey scored off Pulisic's perfectly weighted chip in the 32nd.

Finding room to maneuver in a central midfield role, Pulisic made it 4-0 just 12 seconds into the second half with his fourth international goal, Dempsey rounded the keeper to score following a Pulisic feed in the 49th, and Dempsey got another on a 23-yard free kick in the 54th. With 55 international goals, Dempsey moved within two of Landon Donovan's American record.

In its first competitive match since Arena replaced Jurgen Klinsmann, the U.S. moved from last to fourth in the final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region, tied at three points with Honduras but ahead on goal difference, Mexico leads with seven points, followed by Costa Rica with six and Panama with four.

The top three nations qualify for next year's tournament in Russia, and the fourth-place nation advances to a playoff. With a victory at Panama on Tuesday, the Americans could move into the top three.

The U.S. had never before won a hexagonal game by more than three goals.

And oh how the American Outlaws and others among the lively home crowd loved every second of this long-awaited showing, chanting "Michael Bradley!" and "Demp-sey! Demp-sey!" through the Bay Area rain and cool March air.

Then, it was "Bruce Arena! Bruce Arena!"

Gloom descended upon the Americans in November when they opened the hexagonal with a 2-1 home loss to Mexico and a 4-0 wipeout at Costa Rica. The defeats caused the U.S. Soccer Federation to fire Klinsmann, who had coached the Americans since 2011, and bring back Arena, who lead the team from 1998-2006.

Dempsey, 34 and hoping to reach a fourth World Cup, was sidelined from August until this month by an irregular heartbeat and likely was starting only because of injuries to Bobby Wood and Jordan Morris. Tim Howard, the Americans' 38-year-old goalkeeper, got the shutout after returning only two weeks ago from a leg injury sustained in the loss to Mexico.

Geoff Cameron, back from a knee strain that had sidelined him for fourth months, was shifted to right back from central defense because of injuries to others, and Jorge Villafana was inserted on the left.

But there were yet more injuries. Lletget hurt his left ankle on Ever Alvarado's tackle and was replaced in the 18th minute, and defender John Brooks was stretchered off the field, hand over his face, in the 69th due to dehydration.

From the opening whistle, the U.S. played more aggressively than in the latter years of Klinsmann's reign. Arena revamped the midfield, giving a prominent role to Pulisic, who last week became the youngest American to score in the Champions League. He inserted Lletget and Nagbe, who were largely overlooked by Klinsmann last year, on the flanks.

The U.S. went ahead when Jozy Altidore picked up a loose ball and on his second try poked the ball ahead to Pulisic. His left-footed shot that went off goalkeeper Donis Escobar, and Lletget tapped in the ball with his right foot from 2 yards.

Bradley, given his debut by Arena in 2006, doubled the lead when he took a pass from Alejando Bedoya, cut to his left, took four touches and cut the ball back to beat Escobar with one-hopper from about 25 yards.

Showing poise beyond his years, Pulisic created the third goal when he lofted a pass to Dempsey, who allowed the ball of bounce off his right shoulder. Dempsey held off Henry Figueroa and while falling scored with his right foot from 8 yards.