Melvin calls on rookie to beat Sox, halt A's skid

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Melvin calls on rookie to beat Sox, halt A's skid

June 10, 2011
A's (27-37) vs.
WHITE SOX (31-34)

Coverage starts at 4:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet California

CHICAGO (AP) -- A change in managers didn't prevent the Oakland Athletics' losing streak from reaching double digits.

The Athletics will try again to give Bob Melvin his first win and halt a 10-game skid Friday night against the Chicago White Sox.

Oakland (27-37) made the majors' first managerial change of 2011 by firing Bob Geren after four-plus seasons Thursday. Melvin, a Bay Area native and former skipper with Arizona and Seattle, will guide the A's for the remainder of the season.

RATTO: Something amiss in dismissal of Geren

He's got quite a challenge trying to wake up a sluggish offense. Heading into the opener of its four-game set with the White Sox (31-34), Oakland was last in the AL with 223 runs and 34 homers, and second to last with a .238 batting average.

Melvin does inherit a pitching staff, led by Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill, that still has the AL's lowest ERA at 3.32 even after being hit hard later Thursday. Cahill yielded six runs in a season-low 2 2-3 innings and spoiled the debut of his new bench boss with a 9-4 loss.

"It's always about winning," said Melvin, who's seven victories short of 500. "It would have been nice to go home tonight and get some sleep knowing that we won a game, but we'll come back out and battle (Friday)."

REWIND: A's fall to White Sox in Melvin's debut

Hideki Matsui had a two-run homer among two hits for last-place Oakland, which looks to avoid losing 11 straight for the first time since a 12-game slide April 19-30, 1994.

To do that, Melvin will go with Graham Godfrey, making his major league debut with Brett Anderson sidelined by elbow soreness.

Godfrey was 7-1 with a 2.50 ERA in nine starts with Triple-A Sacramento, and he also led the River Cats with 45 strikeouts while walking 14 in 50 1-3 innings. Oakland acquired the right-hander in 2007 from Toronto in a trade involving Marco Scutaro.

Athletics starters have a 5.99 ERA over the last 10 games, and Godfrey will be facing a lineup that features the surging Carlos Quentin and Paul Konerko. Quentin is batting .359 in an 11-game hitting streak while Konerko has a 10-game run with homers in five of his last eight contests.

After sitting out for two games to try and clear his head, Adam Dunn went deep at home Thursday for the first time since May 1 - a span of 15 games.

"That felt good. You're out there after having a series off. You're eager to get back in there and be able to contribute," said Dunn, who's hitting .178 and has struck out 11 times in 22 at-bats versus the Athletics this year.

The White Sox, who are looking to win three straight in one season over Oakland for the first time since May 22-24, 2006, will send Edwin Jackson (4-5, 4.50 ERA) to the hill.

The right-hander threw a season high 124 pitches in six innings, but didn't get a decision Saturday against Detroit after yielding two runs and seven hits with four walks in Chicago's 4-2 loss.

He is 2-1 with a 3.48 ERA against Oakland, but has failed to get a win or loss in two starts since joining the White Sox in a trade from Arizona in July. Jackson's shortest outing of the season at U.S. Cellular Field came against the A's on April 12, when he lasted 4 2-3 innings while allowing three runs and seven hits in the White Sox's 6-5 win in 10 innings.

Melifonwu might be solution to Raiders' problem covering tight ends

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Melifonwu might be solution to Raiders' problem covering tight ends

ALAMEDA – The Raiders have struggled mightily covering tight ends. It hasn’t been a one-year thing. They’re notorious for letting that position run rampant over the past four years, allowing talent ranging from Travis Kelce to Gary Barnidge to tally huge totals against the Silver and Black.

The Raiders may have found a solution to that problem Friday in the second round. They selected massive combine freak and Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu, a 6-foot-4 speedster who can match up well with most anyone.

“Look, this is no secret, we’ve struggled for the last couple of years covering the opponents’ tight ends,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “We think this is a guy that can help out with his length, matchup against some of the bigger tight ends, some of the better tight ends. We’ll put him right in the mix.”

Del Rio can get creative with this kid. Melifonwu is a safety by trade, but can play cornerback – he proved that during Senior Bowl practices – and functions well from the slot. He can also play well in the box against the run game or deep in the pattern, providing versatility to the secondary.

The Raiders have incumbent starters at safety, with free safety Reggie Nelson and strong safety Karl Joseph. Nelson is 33 and entering a contract year, so Melifonwu could develop into a long-term partnership with Joseph, last year’s first-round pick.

Expect Melifonwu to help right away, especially against the recently bothersome tight end position.

“I feel like I’m a solid cover guy, especially versus tight ends,” Melifonwu said. “I feel like the majority of tight ends that I go up against I’m going to be faster than and really be able to cover them.”

The London, England native put on a show at the NFL scouting combine. He ran 40 yards in 4.40 seconds there, and did most every drill well.

“I think it did a lot for me,” Melifonwu said. “I think it showed my character, my poise and the ability to perform under pressure. And really the fact that not only am I an explosive player, I’m a player that has great hips and great range for somebody my size.”

Del Rio said is supported solid game tape, which improved as his college career progressed. He finished with a career-high 118 tackles and four interceptions. He also had 2.5 tackles for a loss and three passes defensed. He accounts the improvement to improved football knowledge.

“Just having a better sense of the game of football,” Melifonwu said. “My defensive back coach Anthony Poindexter was a great college safety and a great NFL safety. He really did a great job of helping me fine tune things like run fits, formations and really keyed every week to watch and how to watch the game of football, how to study the game of football which in result, helped me have the season I had.”

49ers select TE George Kittle in fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft

49ers select TE George Kittle in fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft

GEORGE KITTLE
Position: Tight end
College: Iowa
Height: 6-3 3/4
Weight: 247
Selection: Fifth round, No. 146 overall

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers selected Iowa tight end George Kittle in the fifth round with the No. 146 overall pick.

Kittle becomes the second Iowa player the 49ers selected in two days. Late Friday, the 49ers traded up to select quarterback C.J. Beathard.

Kittle was considered an outstanding blocker in the Hawkeyes pro-style offense. As a senior, Kittle appeared in nine games and caught 22 passes for 314 yards and four touchdowns. In 2015, he had 20 receptions for 290 yards and six touchdowns.

Kittle joins a 49ers tight end group that includes Vance McDonald, Garrett Celek, Logan Paulsen, Blake Bell and Je’Ron Hamm.

Former NFL executive Michael Lombardi on Friday reported the 49ers are attempting to trade McDonald. In one of former general manager Trent Baalke’s final moves, the 49ers signed McDonald in December to a five-year contract extension that included a $7 million signing bonus.