NFL's Pro Bowl a bittersweet affair for players

NFL's Pro Bowl a bittersweet affair for players

Jan. 28, 2010GUTIERREZ ARCHIVERAIDERS PAGE RAIDERS VIDEOPaul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.com

KAPOLEI, Hawaii They smile, say all the right things and are careful to not bite the hand that feeds them.Its a carnival atmosphere, really, where pigskins and pineapples, stars and spam sandwiches share, and rule, the day in paradise during Pro Bowl week.Its a special week being around some other great football players (and) some great coaches, the polished Peyton Manning offered following this mornings walk-through practice in red, white and blue Pro Bowl uniforms at the players hotel, the posh Ihilani Resort & Spa.And the fans are a big part of this thing as well, so thats what this week is all about.See what I mean. The Indianapolis quarterback has mastered the art of saying something without really saying anything. And yetThere is an ironic undercurrent running through the Islands. Since the NFL moved the Pro Bowl from the week following the Super Bowl to the week before the championship game last year, effectively eliminating any Pro Bowlers selected from the AFC and NFC title teams, a looming sense of bittersweet success has become palpable here. Especially with the league bringing the Pro Bowl back to Oahu after a one-year sojourn to the Super Bowl site. It had been at Aloha Stadium since 1980.Everybody here is kind of disappointed, said Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez, selected for his 11th Pro Bowl. Especially the guys that actually made the playoffs. And for the New England staff and our Atlanta staff being the No. 1 seed, playing here is something you didnt anticipate.The coaching staffs of each conferences highest seeded team eliminated in the second weekend of the postseason have the honor, as ignominious as it may be, of coaching the Pro Bowl squads. Paging the Patriots Bill Belichick and the Falcons Mike White.But at the same time, Gonzalez added, you know we have a good time when we come out here. Fun in the sun. This is good times. Everybodys relaxing.At least when theyre able to put the immediate past behind them and move forward.The New York Jets and Chicago Bears had stakes driven through their hearts a mere five days ago. So forgive the likes of Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis and Bears defensive end Julius Peppers if theyre not exactly running around Waikiki Beach with puka shells around their necks, grass skirts around their waists and toasting mai-tais to the NFLs all-star game. GUTIERREZ: Pro Bowl Postcard (12811)
Falling one game shy of an ultimate goal playing in the Super Bowl kinda stings.It can be bitter in a lot of ways because you want to be in the Super Bowl but I think this is just another situation where ,if you make the Pro Bowl, you come out here and its a vacation, you have your family out here and try to have a good time, said Revis, who had eight tackles and one pass defensed in the Jets 24-19 loss to Pittsburgh. He is one of three Jets in this Pro Bowl, along with left tackle DBrickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold.Youve got to trade your emotions over, Revis said. You have to switch them and just try to make this a positive trip as much as you can.Peppers was trying to take the high road and was obviously still stinging from the Bears 21-14 home defeat to Green Bay.Being in Hawaii for the Pro Bowl instead of gearing up for the Super Bowl in Arlington, Texas. Bittersweet, much?Yeah, of course, said Peppers, who had two tackles, a quarterback hurry and a roughing the passer penalty against the Packers. It is what it is. Everybody wants to be playing (in the Super Bowl) but everybody cant play. We gave it our best shot so, you know, come in (to the Pro Bowl). Youve got to come in. Obviously, we want to be playing but we cant.Peppers is in Hawaii with Bears teammate and kick return specialist Devin Hester.Yeah, its a short turnaround, Peppers said. But when you get voted to come out here, you want to come out here and show up for the fans that voted for you.And, no matter how much it hurts and how bittersweet it all may taste, to keep that smile on the face.What's your take? Email Paul and let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag.

Melancon wastes Blach's gem, Giants fall to Padres in 12 on Myers' homer

Melancon wastes Blach's gem, Giants fall to Padres in 12 on Myers' homer

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- Wil Myers hit a three-run homer in the top of the 12th inning to send the San Diego Padres past the San Francisco Giants 5-2 on Sunday.

Myers' seventh home run and second in two games came on a 1-0 fastball from reliever George Kontos (0-2). Cory Spangenberg singled against Kontos leading off the inning, and Erick Aybar singled two batters later.

Hector Sanchez, who played parts of five seasons with the Giants, had a pinch-hit, two-run homer off San Francisco closer Mark Melancon in the ninth to send the game to extra innings.

Sanchez turned on a 1-1 cut fastball over the heart of the plate for his first home run of the season and third career pinch-hit homer.

It was Melancon's second blown save in seven chances.

Sanchez represented the tying run after shortstop Eduardo Nunez booted Luis Sardinas' leadoff grounder for an error.

Ryan Buchter (2-1) pitched two shutout innings for the Padres. Jose Torres worked a scoreless 12th for his first save.

Melancon's flop followed a full meltdown by the Giants' bullpen Saturday, when the Padres tagged San Francisco relievers for 11 runs in three innings of a 12-4 win that included Myers' three-run homer.

Giants starter Ty Blach pitched seven innings of three-hit ball, retiring 10 of his last 11 batters in his second start for San Francisco since taking injured ace Madison Bumgarner's spot in the rotation. Bumgarner is expected to miss three months with a separated left (pitching) shoulder he sustained in a dirt-bike crash.

The Giants, who were hitting a league-worst .217 against lefties going into Sunday, took a 2-0 lead against southpaw Clayton Richard, who pitched 5 1/3 innings of six-hit ball.

Joe Panik, who was hit by a pitch leading off the fourth, scored on Blach's sacrifice fly. Michael Morse doubled in Hunter Pence in the fifth.

The Padres have won 12 of 16 games against the Giants dating to last season.

San Francisco (9-17) has the National League's worst record and is 39-59 since going into last year's All-Star break 24 games over .500 with the best record in the majors.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Padres: RHP Jarred Cosart, on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, tentatively plans to pitch for Class A Lake Elsinore on a rehab assignment Tuesday, manager Andy Green said. Cosart will throw three innings or about 45-50 pitches.

Giants: RHP Neil Ramirez was designated for assignment and the Giants called up RHP Bryan Morris from Triple-A Sacramento. . CF Denard Span, on the disabled list with a right shoulder injury, tentatively plans to take batting practice in Los Angeles on Monday.

UP NEXT:
Padres: After an off day, RHP Trevor Cahill (1-2, 4.50 ERA) will pitch the home series opener against Colorado on Tuesday. Cahill is 5-6 with a 4.44 ERA in his career against the Rockies.

Giants: RHP Johnny Cueto (3-1, 5.10) starts the series opener against the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Monday. The two-time All-Star gave up three runs in six innings vs. the Dodgers last week and was 3-1 with a 2.67 ERA against them last season.

A's have their work cut out as they welcome back Sonny, Rajai

A's have their work cut out as they welcome back Sonny, Rajai

HOUSTON — If the A’s eventually want to return to the American League West mountaintop, they got a good look at the team they’ll have to conquer.

The Astros boast one of the majors’ most talented and athletic rosters, with enough of a youthful core to suggest they’ll be battling for division supremacy for years to come. They took two of three from Oakland at Minute Maid Park, capped by Sunday’s 7-2 decision in which left-hander Dallas Keuchel held the A’s to just three hits over 7 2/3 innings.

The loss ended a season-opening stretch in which the A’s played 22 of their first 25 against AL West foes. They saw every team in the division at least once, going 9-13 in that stretch and 11-14 overall for the month of April.

It’s tough to glean too much from one month of play, but the Astros (16-9) so far are living up to the hype that stems from several notable offseason additions they made. They hold a three-game lead over the second-place Los Angeles Angels, with Oakland and Texas both five games back and Seattle 5 1/2 back.

Before the A’s bother worrying about who they have to knock off at the top, there are baby steps to conquer.

They need to generate some consistent offense, which has been lacking in their 1-5 start to this nine-game road trip. With that in mind, they’ll gladly welcome back center fielder Rajai Davis, who is expected to return from a strained left hamstring and rejoin the lineup Tuesday in Minnesota.

Also Tuesday, Sonny Gray will make his 2017 debut after missing the first four weeks with a strained lat muscle in his right side. One of the primary April storylines for the A’s involved the players they lost to injury. Now, they at least draw some optimism from the ones they’ll welcome back.

“We need to get these guys back,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “We’ve been leaning on (backup center fielder) Jaff Decker a little harder than we need to. You get Raj back doing his thing at the top of the lineup and get your No. 1 pitcher back, hopefully this is a trend on an upward swing as far as getting players back, as opposed to losing them like we have been.”

Jesse Hahn, who took Sunday’s loss, could eventually be out of a rotation spot with Gray’s return. But that decision gets delayed with fellow starter Sean Manaea having just joined the 10-day disabled list with a strained shoulder.

Hahn was solid Sunday, going six innings and allowing four runs (two earned). But he got a taste of the diverse ways that Houston can beat a pitcher. The Astros have speed, as they showed in the first inning when George Springer beat out an infield single and scored all the way from first on Carlos Correa’s double.

They also have run producers up and down the batting order. Evan Gattis, who clubbed 32 homers last season, hit seventh Sunday and drove an RBI double to left that just missed being a two-run homer.

“One through nine, it’s a solid lineup over there,” Hahn said. “You can’t take any pitches off, any at-bats off. You’ve almost got to treat every guy the same or they can hurt you.”

Catcher Josh Phegley says the A’s have a good read on the rest of the division and the challenge that sits before him and his teammates.

“We’ve seen the teams we’re gonna face most of the year. We get a feel for their bullpen, some of the subs they make during the game,” he said. “I like the way our team stacks up against everyone else.”

But the A’s have their work cut out. Last year, they were 13-12 at the end of April, just 1 1/2 games out of first place before eventually finishing in the cellar. As they begin this May, they are three games under .500 and already five games out.

Help is on the way with the return of Gray and Davis. Now the A’s need to parlay that into some victories.