Posey diagnoses Bumgarner

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Posey diagnoses Bumgarner

SAN FRANCISCO Giants catcher Buster Posey clearly has a better view than anyone when it comes to the clubs starting pitching staff. Therefore, his analysis of Madison Bumgarners recent struggles carries the most weight.

Bumgarner fell to 0-2 this postseason after giving up six earned runs in just 3.2 innings on Sunday in Game 1 of the NLCS. His playoff ERA this postseason, including a loss to the Reds in Game 2 of the division series, has ballooned to 14.73.

So, whats the deal, Buster?

I think hes just struggling with command, Posey said. Breaking balls not getting buried in. It doesnt have quite the same finish on it. Id say thats the main thing.

Bumgarner said: Thats the way its been the past two starts. Not a whole lot of life on the ball. At the same time, youve still got to find a way to make pitches.

The 23-year-old lefty was felled on Sunday by a pair of two-run home runs by the Cards David Freeze in the second, and fan-unfavorite Carlos Beltran in the fourth. On Beltrans blast, Bumgarner hung a 2-2 slider that ended up in the left field seats. It was the last batter he faced.

His place in the postseason rotation could be in jeopardy.

He came out with good stuff, but it dropped a little bit, manager Bruce Bochy said when asked if a change to the rotation was coming. Well talk about it tonight, tomorrow, and as we get to Game 5 what we will do. But, hes one of our guys. Hes had a great year, and weve seen what this kid has done for us during the season and in the postseason. But, its something that well discuss.

While Ryan Vogelsong will start Game 2 and Matt Cain Game 3, Bochy could very well go with Tim Lincecum in Game 5, or even Game 4. Lincecum pitched two shutout innings in Game 1 in relief of Bumgarner, and Bochy said in his post-game presser that he wouldnt use Lincecum in Game 2.

For his part, Lincecum said this is as confident as hes been all season. In 8.1 innings of work this postseason, all in relief, Lincecum has allowed just one earned run, walked one and struck out nine.

I feel confident right now, just because you have to be. You cant go out there with that doubt in your mind, because every pitch is that much more crucial and that much more important.

Posey, too, sees a confident two-time Cy Young Award winner, who was bypassed for a start in the NLDS against the Reds for Bumgarner and Barry Zito.

I think thats a big thing is that he is pitching with confidence, Posey said. Hes moving the ball around on the plate, and throwing some off-speed pitches in some hitters counts, and able to keep the guys off balance. Hes done a good job.

The Giants, who are now 0-3 at AT&T Park in the playoffs, will need a strong start from Vogelsong in Game 2, especially when you consider the bullpen was forced to pitch more than five innings in Game 1.

Vogelsongs last appearance was against the Reds in Game 3 of the division series, when he surrendered one earned run in five innings in what was the first of three straight Giants wins.

We expect the same out of him as hes done all year long. Hes been great for us and we expect a lot more of the same tomorrow, Brandon Belt said. Well be ready to play defense behind him, and we know hell do just fine.

Posey said: Tomorrow is big. Im sure Vogey will be ready and Im excited for him being on the mound.

The Giants are still seeking their first quality start through six playoff games. That will have to change, sooner rather than later even though the Giants' bullpen tied a postseason LCS record with 5.1 scoreless, hitless innings in Game 1.

You certainly want a quality start from the guys, Bochy said. In these series the bullpen plays a huge role. It did for them tonight. Their pen did a great job, and ours did a great job. It makes it easier when you get a quality start.

As Samardzija ages, it isn't as easy to lose the weight gained in offseason

As Samardzija ages, it isn't as easy to lose the weight gained in offseason

Jeff Samardzija is entering Year 2 of the five-year contract he signed with the Giants following the 2015 season.

With spring training underway, what is the hardest part about getting his body and mind prepared for the upcoming campaign?

"The pitching aspects of things, the older I get, the more they kind of just fall right in line with feeling my mechanics out," Samardzija explained on KNBR 680 on Wednesday morning. "For me, it's probably the cardio (laughter). The older I get, the more I realize that you put more weight on in the offseason, then it's a little harder to get off.

"You hear about it, right? You hear about it all the time when you're younger ... and my offseasons, I like to have offseasons. I don't watch my calories. I don't watch my intake (I don't really watch any of that anyways). But the offseason -- I have fun, I relax ... then you get working out again and usually those first five or six poles, two-mile runs, camelback hikes -- they're always pretty interesting the first couple times."

The former college wide receiver is listed at 225 pounds.

Samardzija turned 32 years old in January and is entering his 10th big-league season.

He went 12-11 with a 3.81 ERA over 32 starts last year.

Over his final 10 starts, he went 3-3 with a 2.45 ERA.

"The splitter came back for me there toward the end of the year," Samardzija said. "I kind of brought the curveball in to not replace, but kind of take up some of the space of the splitter that wasn't there.

"And then come September, the splitter showed up and then we had the curveball and we ran with it from there."

I don't skate like a man, just a darn good woman

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I don't skate like a man, just a darn good woman

In late December, I was invited to play in a pick-up hockey game with some other members of the local sports media community. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I was one of only two women there that day. Even now, female ice hockey players aren’t exactly common.

After the game, a reporter I’ve known a while – a guy I like a lot – said to me: “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you skate like a man.” I didn’t take it wrong, of course; he meant it as a compliment. The reporter wanted nothing more than to tell me I’d impressed him.

I thought about this exchange a lot in the days that followed. Had someone told me I played hockey like a boy when I was 15, I would have worn that description like a badge. Hell yeah, 15-year-old Sarah would have thought, I do play like a boy. I’m as tough as a boy. I’m as fierce and competitive as any boy on my team. I would have reveled in it, just as I reveled in a similar label I’d received even earlier in my adolescence: tomboy.

Yeah, I was a tomboy. I hung around with the neighborhood boys, riding bikes between each other’s houses or catching salamanders in the creek that ran through town. I loved sports, and my bedroom walls -- papered with newspaper clippings and photos of Flyers players -- were a far cry from the pink-tinged rooms that belonged to the girls at school. 

As much as I could, I dressed like a boy too, even once cutting the sleeves off of an oversized T-shirt before I went out to rollerblade with our next-door neighbors. My grandmother, who was visiting at the time, pulled me aside to tell me I really ought to dress more appropriately. I rolled my eyes.
I was a tomboy, and I loved the word and everything it stood for. I felt pride in my tomboyishness, believing that the things I liked – the things boys liked – were clearly better than the things stereotypically left to the girls.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit it was a conversation with a 15-year-old that changed my perspective, just a few days after my reporter friend had compared my hockey skills to those of a man. I sat down with Mo’ne Davis, the female Little League pitching phenom, for this very project. I asked her if she identified as a tomboy, and she shrugged. Not really, she said. Maybe other people wanted to define her that way, she suggested, but that wasn’t how she viewed things.

You know that record scratch sound effect they play on TV or in the movies? The one that denotes a sort of “wait … what?!” moment? That’s what happened in my head. Mo’ne Davis, the girl who played on the boys’ team and excelled, didn’t consider herself a tomboy?

Something clicked in my head after that. I’ve long identified as a feminist, and I’ve been a big supporter of girls in sports for as long as I can remember. I coach girls hockey, I’ve spoken at schools and camps about playing and working in sports as a woman. For some reason, though, it took a 15-year-old shrugging her shoulders at the label “tomboy” to take the power out of the word for me. Why does one have to be a tomboy, when one can simply be a girl who kicks ass? How had I never considered this before?

In many ways (and especially in sports) if something is male, it’s considered superior. It goes beyond just the things kids like to do, and it’s all old news. It’s also something I’m ashamed to admit I’ve bought into for practically all of my life. But no longer. How can I help change the narrative if I’m too busy playing along with it?

And if I could do it over, when that reporter approached me after our hockey game to tell me I skated like a man, I would have smiled, shook my head and said: Nah. But I skate like a darn good woman.