Raiders notes: Knapp takes blame, Bartells status, etc

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Raiders notes: Knapp takes blame, Bartells status, etc

ALAMEDA Carson Palmer threwthree interceptions in the Raiders 42-32 loss to TampaBay last Sunday and none were morecrushing than his second, which came with Oaklanddown just three points and led to the Bucs final touchdown.While Palmer was focused on practicing Thursday, notexplaining himself to the media, his offensive coordinator Greg Knapp took itupon himself to break down the mistakes.One of thedecisions was a bad decision by the quarterback; the other decision Id put onmyself, Knapp said. That last interception I wish Id called another play. Iput him in a bad situation. It was a seven-step scheme where maybe we wouldvebeen better off using a three of five-step scheme. We had done really good upto that point in that concept so I wish I had a better call for him to put himin that situation.Palmer threw 16 interceptions compared to 13 touchdowns in his 10 games withthe Raiders last season. In eight games so far in his first full campaign with Oakland, Palmer hasalready matched his touchdown total from last year and cut his interceptions inhalf.Knapp said that with Palmer, it all comes down to protection.If we give Carson good protection,hes going to be fine; hell make the progression read.---Cornerback Ron Bartell would be eligible to play Sunday ifhes activated to the 53-man roster, but its unclear if head coach DennisAllen and general manager Reggie McKenzie are ready to pull the trigger. Im going to look at him againtomorrow and really get a better feel for exactly where he is, Allen said. Weregoing to play him as much as we feel like we can play him, whenever that timeis when we decide were going to activate him. I feel good about where hesat.Defensive coordinator Jason Tarver had good grades to share on Bartell as well.Bartell has had a good week of practice, Tarver said. Didsome things well today. So Im excited to see him on the field.But could that be as soon as Sunday? Like a loyal employee, Tarver deflected.That falls up to coach Allen and Reggie, as I say a lot oftimes.---The NFL limits teams to a certain number of padded practicesper season. After the Raiders struggled to tackle the Bucs Doug Martin andplenty of his teammates last Sunday, Allen had his players don the padsWednesday in order to get back to tackling basics.We had the pads on for the firstpart of practice yesterday so we got a chance to use the pads a little bit andpractice some tackling, Allen said.Does that mean the Raiders are getting close to reaching the league-imposedlimit?Id hate to tell you exactly how many we got left, but were coming up prettyclose on the time when theres very few, Allen admitted.But after Martin ran wild in Oaklandfor 251 yards and four touchdowns, its hard to argue that theRaidersdidnt need the extra work.Now preparing for a similar back, though one with an even better track recordof success, in the Ravens Ray Rice, Tarver said his players need to learn fromtheir mistakes.Sometimes you learn what to do; sometimes you learn what not to do.---Allen said Willie Smith, Khalif Barnes and rookie Tony Bergstrom have all beenreceiving reps at right tackle this week and he wouldnt name his starter atthe position for Sundays game.All three of those guys haveworked, but again I got a pretty good idea what were going to do. But Im notgoing to make any decision or any announcement on that until after practiceFriday.Barnes, who left the Raiders second game in Miami with a groin injury, said hes excitedto see game action again after practicing for a second straight day Thursday.Ive never hadto deal with a long injury layoff, Barnes said. So it was something new forme, but fortunately I have good teammates and I got a chance to watch them andthe way theyve been showing how resilient they are the past few weeks andshowing that anything thats going on in the game, they never quit playing. Ikind of get to feed off them so thats one thing thats keeping me going. Imglad to be back and be a part of what theyve been doing.Barnes saidthat he first felt pain in his groin on a specific play in the second quarterof the Raiders loss to the Dolphins.I was going tocut off a linebacker and try to cut block him. I took that left step and itkind of split from there.So will Barnes be ready to play Sunday?Thatssomething you have to ask Dennis Allen. Ive just been out there on the fieldtrying to test the waters. I dont know anything about playing or anything likethat.

Manaea felt 'little sharp pain', but status of shoulder not immediately known

Manaea felt 'little sharp pain', but status of shoulder not immediately known

ANAHEIM — Sean Manaea is hopeful his left shoulder injury isn’t serious, but the A’s likely won’t have a full read on the starter’s condition for a couple days.

As of Wednesday night, no MRI was scheduled after Manaea left after just two innings of an eventual 8-5 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels with tightness in his shoulder.

“I felt it a little bit in the bullpen,” Manaea said. “I thought it was just one of those days where it took me longer to warm up, and that just wasn’t the case. It’s just really unfortunate.”

Just as the A’s are about to welcome Kendall Graveman back to the active roster Thursday, when he starts the series finale at Angel Stadium, and just as it appears Sonny Gray might be ready to come off the disabled list following one more rehab start, the A’s are hoping they don’t see Manaea subtracted from their rotation for any period of time.

Manager Bob Melvin said it was the top of Manaea’s shoulder that was bothering him.

“The velo was down, and it didn’t make sense to have him keep pitching,” Melvin said. “But we won’t know anything probably for a day or two, how he feels.”

Once he started throwing in the game, Manaea said he felt “kind of a little sharp pain. I mean, it’s nothing serious. I’ve dealt with it before and it only took me a few days to get back on the mound. To me, I’m not really worried about it.”

The pitcher added that he experienced a similar situation with his shoulder while a minor leaguer in Kansas City’s organization, toward the end of spring training, and he missed minimal time.

Things didn’t get better for the A’s (10-11) after Manaea exited, as they struck out 13 times and played sloppy defensively in dropping their third in a row. Catcher Stephen Vogt couldn’t handle Ryan Dull’s glove flip to the plate on a seventh-inning squeeze play, ending a streak of six errorless games for Oakland, but Melvin can live with occasional physical misplays. More problematic were occasions when right fielder Matt Joyce and center fielder Jaff Decker both seemed caught by surprise to see Angels runners take off for an extra base. Whether it was a lack of communication from infielders or the outfielders themselves needing to be more aware, the A’s can’t afford those kinds of mistakes.

“As a group, we can’t let that happen,” Melvin said. “We talk about it in advance meetings the way these guys run the bases. It’s not something we can do and expect to beat this team.”

Added Vogt: “We were on our heels quite a bit. This was obviously not the prettiest baseball game we’ve played.”

Morse, Arroyo stun Dodgers, lift Giants to thrilling comeback win

Morse, Arroyo stun Dodgers, lift Giants to thrilling comeback win

SAN FRANCISCO — This spring, Hunter Pence briefly tried to cut back on his coffee intake. The experiment did not last long for a player who is pure caffeine on and off the field, but even Pence is occasionally in need of more than a large cold brew. 

Pence tried to stay upbeat throughout a sluggish start to the season, but around him was a clubhouse in need of energy. Christian Arroyo walked through the door on Monday. Two days later, Michael Morse arrived.

“That’s quite an energy jolt,” Pence said of Arroyo. “Morse, it’s been an energy jolt as well.”

The two recent River Cats sent a pair of jolts through a stadium that was sold out for the 499th consecutive time. Arroyo hit a two-run homer in the seventh, his first in the big leagues. Morse went deep in the eighth for his first big league hit in two years and first homer as a Giant since the 2014 NLCS. 

Pence is close friends with Morse and and admirer of Arroyo, the 21-year-old who has taken a locker a few feet away. He made sure neither jolt went to waste, hitting a walk-off sacrifice fly in the 10th to give the Giants a thrilling 4-3 win they hope they can build on.

“That was a shot in the arm,” Morse said.

The big slugger was just that earlier Wednesday. Morse agreed to terms on a minor league deal at Pence’s wedding last winter and he was on track for opening day before a hamstring injury. He was so excited by Wednesday’s call back to San Francisco that he beat Bruce Bochy to the park. The manager tried to lower expectations before the game, telling reporters that Morse would not be a regular starter, especially in left, where the Giants have watched a black hole open. 

Morse was here for the late innings, for the moment when Bochy looks at him and says simply, “Get ready, Mo.” For most of Wednesday’s game, it looked like that big moment wouldn’t come. Alex Wood took a no-hitter into the sixth but he was pulled in the seventh by a Dodgers staff trying to protect his arm. Sergio Romo entered and soon faced a kid who was 19 the first time he walked into Romo’s clubhouse. 

“He’s been doing the same thing in the big leagues with good results for a long time,” Arroyo said. 

Arroyo got the slider that’s always coming, low and away, and he drilled it deep to left-center. He hit only three homers last year but Giants management felt the 36 doubles at Richmond showed a developing power bat. The strength has come quickly, and the ball carried into the first row of seats. 

“I looked up and saw the ump waving and I was like, ‘I’ve got to slow down,’” Arroyo said, smiling. “I tried to slow down and take it all in.”

As Arroyo crossed the plate and looked to the sky, his family shared hugs — without spilling a nacho — in a section overlooking the home dugout. The ballpark roared. A 3-0 deficit had been nearly erased. 

“Now it’s a one-run game,” Bochy said. “Anything can happen.”

Even by that standard, Morse’s blast was improbable. This is a player who didn’t have a hit last season before being sent home by the Pittsburgh Pirates. A player who, at 35, was having a poor spring before he announced to a reporter one day that he was going to hit a homer -- and then promptly did. On a rehab assignment over the past week, Morse had a .250 average and no homers, but he insisted to general manager Bobby Evans that his swing was ready. 

Evans believed, and Morse rewarded him with a moment that had everyone in the park throwing it back to 2014. Just as in the deciding game of the NLCS against the Cardinals, Morse was sent up as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. Sidewinding Pat Neshek was replaced by fire-balling Pedro Baez, but the approach was the same. 

“Swing hard,” Morse said. “Just in case you hit it.”

Baez kept pumping fastballs and Morse turned on one at 97 mph. He raised his arm the same way he did three years ago, an inning before Travis Ishikawa’s heroics. 

“I’m not going to lie,” Bochy said. “I was thinking about that game against St. Louis.”

All the Giants were. 

“You kind of just sit there and shake your head a little bit because it was very similar to his last homer here,” Posey said. “Even his excitement out of the box was similar.”

Morse said he didn’t intend to strike the same pose. 

“I was like, ‘I hope I didn’t strike out and I’m just running around the bases,’” he said, laughing. “It was cool, man. Not only for me, but for the team.”

For four innings, the surging bullpen made sure the homers would not be a fun footnote to another loss. Gorkys Hernandez kicked off the winning rally in the 10th with a single. He was pushed along by a stolen base, walk and bunt. Pence stepped in with no outs and engaged in one of the strangest battles of a career full of them. 

Ross Stripling, a starter with a deep repertoire, kept pumping 94 mph fastballs up near Pence’s eyes. Pence swung through one, fouled off five, and took three more for balls. Only one of the pitches he saw was in the strike zone. In the dugout, Posey shook his head in amusement. 

“It was kind of hard not to laugh,” Posey said. “He’s probably the only guy who can do that.”

Some Giants couldn’t hold the laughter in, even in a tense spot.

“He had that ‘Thou shall not walk’ going in that at-bat,” Bochy said. “He probably expanded as much as I’ve ever seen. If he would have walked it would have gone down as one of the more amazing walks with all the balls he swung at.”

On a night full of so much energy, a walk would have been an anticlimactic ending. Pence, who had been expecting a curveball the whole at-bat, lofted a 10th fastball deep enough to left to score Arroyo and send the Giants streaming out of the dugout. 

Arroyo, the youngest of them all, went sprinting across the infield. Morse followed, and soon he had Pence wrapped in a hug. Hours earlier, he had promised that at the very least, he would bring energy to the clubhouse. He delivered more than anyone could have imagined.

“To do that is one of those special moments that can change a season,” Pence said. “It was electric ... Morsey being Morsey.”