MMA champ Velasquez settles into Bay Area home

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MMA champ Velasquez settles into Bay Area home

April 1, 2011MMA PAGE

SAN JOSE (AP) -- Cain Velasquez just moved into a new house in the Bay Area, and he's busy planning his wedding. His team is opening a spacious new gym in San Jose this weekend.

It's almost enough to keep the UFC heavyweight champion's mind off all the training time he's losing in his long rehabilitation from rotator cuff surgery.

"I think I'm just getting rusty a little bit," Velasquez told The Associated Press. "I know that once I get back, I'm going to have some catching up to do. I think this is a perfect moment for me to be in this situation, with the wedding and the house, but it's definitely hard."

Velasquez hurt himself while pounding Brock Lesnar to win his belt last October, and the unbeaten champion hasn't really been able to work since. He just got his arm out of a sling two weeks ago, and he's still a few weeks away from returning to workouts.

Velasquez and trainer Javier Mendez both seem fairly certain he'll be ready to make his first defense in the fall, when he's expected to face the winner of Lesnar's June meeting with Junior Dos Santos in Vancouver.

They also acknowledge they're facing a rough training camp at American Kickboxing Academy's new gym if they hope to keep his belt.

"We're not in a good situation, based on how much work he has to do to catch up," Mendez said. "Those rotator cuff injuries, they're not something to play with, and he's not able to train. He's definitely going to be rusty. The good thing is he's been kept busy by the wedding and all the personal appearances you have to do as the champ, so it's kept his mind occupied."

Velasquez and Michelle Borquez are getting married May 28, and the couple just moved into a new house in Morgan Hill. He's also crossing the globe for personal appearances and endorsement deals, spreading the gospel of mixed martial arts even when he can't participate.

Velasquez has managed to do a bit of cardiovascular work and even spinning classes during his down time, but it's mostly spent waiting. For a fighter who has been in almost nonstop motion since before his wrestling career at Arizona State, it's a tough transition.

"He comes in the gym whenever he can, but he can't do much," Mendez said. "I'm not worried about his focus. I'm worried about the catching up we have to do to get him in the best possible shape. I'd like to say he'd be better than ever in the fall, but it's going to be a very good Cain Velasquez, but not the best Cain Velasquez, because there's going to be some ring rust. I still don't believe anybody is going to beat this kid."

Velasquez has made adjustments to his daily schedule and to his diet, which had to change almost immediately. Although he isn't as big as the hulking Lesnar, his athletic frame still doesn't know how to react to inactivity.

"At first I was eating the way I was when I was fighting, and that wasn't good," Velasquez said. "Now I try to eat less meals during the day, or more meals but less amount of food. I don't get as hungry as I did when I was in training, so it all works out."

Mendez is keeping his original, spartan AKA gym in a strip mall next to a fabric store elsewhere in San Jose, but his new gym is a 27,000-square-foot monument to martial arts. He's partnering with Spectrum Health Center's Manny Camara, who treats several prominent AKA fighters, to build a candy store of a facility with everything from rudimentary wrestling mats and heavy bags to a hyperbaric chamber and X-ray machines.

Although fighters are creatures of habit, Velasquez and Herschel Walker are among the AKA team members who can't wait to relocate.

"They're all looking forward to the fact they can finally go into a gym that's got a swimming pool and showers and sauna and everything else," Mendez said with a laugh. "Everybody is really excited about not having to go anywhere else to get something looked at. We don't have to make an appointment and drive around. Everything is right there."

Camara, a former Brazilian jiujitsu student, is sticking to proven physical therapy techniques in the new gym, but he's also giving chiropractic care, laser therapy for ATP production, vibration platforms and ice baths everything pro athletes in lucrative team sports take for granted, but MMA fighters and boxers can't always access easily.

"The sport is very physically demanding," Camara said. "These fighters experience a great deal of physical and mental stress during the training for that competition, and the ability to heal is something that helps them prolong their career."

Velasquez has embraced the move, and he'll appear at the gym's grand opening Sunday. Later in the month, he's hoping to finally try out some of that sparkling new equipment -- hopefully in training, not rehabilitation.

"I'll always keep evolving with the sport," Velasquez said. "I'll never be left behind. I'm always going to keep getting better. The coaches that we have, they're the best out there."

49ers trade No. 2 pick to Bears for four total NFL Draft picks

49ers trade No. 2 pick to Bears for four total NFL Draft picks

The 49ers on Thursday dealt the No. 2 overall pick in the draft to acquire more selections to assist in the organization’s massive rebuilding project.

After advertising for weeks that the 49ers were “open for business,” first-year general manager John Lynch executed a trade on Thursday night with the Chicago Bears.

The Bears moved up to No. 2, while the 49ers took Chicago’s No. 3 overall pick. The 49ers received the Bears’ picks this year in the third round (No. 67) and fourth round (No. 111), as well as the Bears’ third-round pick next year.

Cleveland kicked off the NFL draft with the selection of Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett. The Bears selected quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 2 overall pick.

The 49ers had engaged in preliminary trade discussions with six teams, a league source told NBC Sports Bay Area. Three teams were inside the top 10 and three teams were outside the top 10.

This draft appeared to set up for the 49ers to trade back because of their needs at so many positions. The 49ers finished 2-14 last season, leading to the firings of general manager John Lynch and coach Chip Kelly.

The 49ers entered the opening day of the draft on Thursday with a scheduled 10 draft picks, including the No. 2 pick in each of the first four rounds.

Regulars in lineup continue to scuffle, Giants end up with series split

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USATSI

Regulars in lineup continue to scuffle, Giants end up with series split

SAN FRANCISCO — The momentum generated by Christian Arroyo and Michael Morse late Wednesday night lasted just a few hours. By the end of this four-game series, the Giants were left with a harsh reality: Even with two injections of new blood, they are not hitting. 

Arroyo drove in another run Thursday, but that was it for a lineup that couldn’t support Matt Moore’s effort. The bullpen, which had kept Bruce Bochy’s guys in close games all series, finally broke in the 10th. The Dodgers walked away with a 5-1 win and a split of a series that was rather uninspiring for both sides. 

After scoring 10 runs on the last road trip, the Giants scored just eight during the four games against the Dodgers. Three of those RBI came from Arroyo, called up Monday. A fourth came from Morse, called up Wednesday.

“We’ve got to get this offense going,” Bochy said. “It’s a better offense than what we’re doing right now. You need to find a way to put a few runs on the board. We had our chances, we just couldn’t find ways to get the big hit.”

With Denard Span out for at least another week, Bochy moved Hunter Pence to the top of the lineup. His temporary No. 3 hitter against lefties, Eduardo Nuñez, has one hit in his last 20 at-bats. Buster Posey, the cleanup hitter, is batting .357, but he has driven in just three runs this month. With two on and one out in the eighth, he bounced into a double play. The production closer to the bottom of the order has been nonexistent, leading to constant shuffling that has moved Nuñez and Belt to left at times. Bochy said the staff will continue to search of a lineup that works. 

“You talk about it and do thing to adjust, and it will get better, but right now we’ve got some guys who aren’t swinging the bat well, to be honest,” he said. “You look at the order and we don’t have a lot of guys swinging well.”

The list does not include Arroyo, the rookie who will eventually have to deal with adjustments from pitchers. It doesn’t appear that’ll be a problem. Arroyo has been making adjustments from at-bat to at-bat. He did so against Sergio Romo for his first career homer and said he learned about the depth of Julio Urias’ curveball during their first two battles Thursday. In the sixth, the 21-year-old Arroyo drove in the game-tying run against the 20-year-old Urias. The lefty had walked Posey to face Arroyo, who singled up the middle. 

“He handles himself so well,” Bochy said. “They walked Buster and he smokes the ball. This kid has shown he’s not in awe. The upper deck, the bright lights, he comes to play.”

Arroyo’s effort briefly backed Moore, who was sharp in seven innings. Moore struck out eight, six of them looking, but he didn’t get much help and the bullpen fell apart in the 10th with a series of walks.

Bochy challenged his starters on Saturday at Coors Field and they responded with a strong series back home. The bullpen was tested during the first week but — Thursday’s result aside — it has settled down. The Giants are not as worried about their pitching as they were as they flew back from Denver. They know, however, that this team is going nowhere if two runs per game continues to be the nightly output. 

“We’ll tweak it again,” Bochy said of his lineup. “We'll see if we can get this thing right.”