Sharks look to avenge hit on White with 2-0 lead

447161.jpg

Sharks look to avenge hit on White with 2-0 lead

April 15, 2011
LOS ANGELES vs. SHARKSSHARKS VIDEOCoverage starts at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California
SAN JOSE (AP) The Los Angeles Kings know they will be without forward Jarret Stoll for one game for his blindside hit that knocked San Jose defender Ian White out of Game 1 of their first-round series.The Sharks don't know yet how long they will be without White, who missed practice Friday as he tries to recover from a head injury and is expected to miss at least one game.The NHL suspended Stoll for Game 2 on Saturday night for hitting White in the league's latest crackdown on hits on defenseless players."Obviously I'm disappointed with the decision," Stoll said after practice Friday. "I don't want to miss any games, whether it's the regular season or especially the playoffs. I'm really disappointed with the decision, but I respect it."The hit in question came at the end of the first period with White trying to play the puck while facing the end boards behind his own net. Stoll hit him from behind, appearing to drive his head into the glass with his forearm.There was no penalty called on the play, but that did not help Stoll escape punishment."It was a dirty hit," said Sharks enforcer Ben Eager, who fought with Kyle Clifford on the ensuing faceoff. "I don't see how you could watch the replay and see it and not see it as a dirty hit. He had his back to him the whole time. Hopefully Whitey is all right."White crumpled and looked groggy as he was helped off the ice with a cut on his face. He was examined by team doctors and has a head injury, coach Todd McLellan said.McLellan would not say if White received a concussion, but said he will not play until doctors clear him."I hope he's OK," Stoll said. "You never want to see a guy get knocked out or have a concussion or miss any time. I missed a lot of time with a concussion years back and I know what it feels like. I definitely don't want to put anyone in that situation. He's a good player."The suspension angered Kings management, with assistant general manager Ron Hextall saying hockey is a physical game and sometimes injuries happen and coach Terry Murray upset that Sharks defenseman Jason Demers wasn't punished at all for a hit later in the game on Ryan Smyth."That other hit is five times more severe, more intentional, traveling distance, launching yourself two to three feet off the ice and a blow to the head," he said. "That is a major longtime suspension."The league did not see it that way and now the Kings must try to even up the series after a 3-2 overtime loss in Game 1 without their second-line center, who also plays important roles on the power play and penalty kill. Los Angeles is already without its top center, Anze Kopitar, who is sidelined by an ankle injury.Now they must find a way to replace Stoll, who was their best faceoff man in Game 1 and teamed with Smyth and Justin Williams on Los Angeles' most productive line in the opener.Stoll was one of six 20-goal scorers for the Kings this season, posting 20 goals and 23 assists. The Kings, who scored the fewest goals of any playoff team in the regular season, are now missing two of their top offensive threats."He's going to be missed," Murray said. "You're not going to replace that right-handed shot, right-handed faceoff guy. Other guys will have to try to be better and dig in and try to get the job done. There's no one we have who can step in and replace everything that Jarret Stoll brings to our game."Trevor Lewis will move up to center that line with John Zeiler being called up from the minors to take a spot as fourth-line center.McLellan has not decided whether rookie Justin Braun or veteran Kent Huskins will go in place of White on Saturday for Game 2. Huskins, who won the Stanley Cup in Anaheim in 2007, missed the final 22 games of the season with an upper-body injury and has just recently returned to practice.Braun, a 24-year-old rookie, played 28 games this season with the Sharks, posting two goals and nine assists. He has a big shot from the point and got time on the power play."You don't want to see a guy go down, but you always have to be ready and be focused," he said. "I paid attention to the game last night as much as I could. I tried to take it all in."White played 401 regular season games before finally making it to the postseason for the first time and got a point on his first shift. White started the game with Niclas Wallin and helped set up Dany Heatley's rebound goal just 28 seconds into the contest - the fastest playoff goal in Sharks history."He's been so pumped to play in the playoffs," Wallin said. "Three games before the end of the season the guy is jumping around and so pumped up. He's a competitive guy. He's going to come back."White played eight more shifts in the first period and got involved on the offensive end before his injury in the final minute of the first period.

A's spring training update Day 6: Davis savors winter in Oakland

A's spring training update Day 6: Davis savors winter in Oakland

MESA, Ariz. — Khris Davis enjoyed quite an offseason travel itinerary, checking out Toronto, taking in the beaches of Hawaii and dining on lobster in Belize.

However, it was the time spent in his adopted hometown of Oakland that most struck a chord with the A’s left fielder. After finishing his first season with the A’s, Davis followed through on his plan to make his offseason home in Oakland, and he was glad he did.

“I got to just feel the heart of the city,” he said upon arriving at camp Sunday. “That was basically the purpose of why I was there. … I wanted to feel Oakland. I love it, honestly. I love the city.”

He trained at Dogtown Athletic, a gym in West Oakland. He took part in the A’s holiday party for kids at the Oakland Zoo, joined by A’s Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson, who grew up in the city.

“Just to feel these kids’ happiness,” Davis said. “They didn’t look at me as a baseball player. They just looked at me as a role model kind of.”

It should be music to the ears of A’s fans that the team’s most dangerous hitter has a love affair with the city he plays in. If the A’s ever entertained the idea of trying to sign Davis to a multi-year extension, and that’s purely hypothetical here, it would help that Davis feels comfortable in his surroundings.

Even when he described Oakland in edgy terms, such as when he said it “has its dark side,” he seemed to find it endearing.

In return, Davis felt the love from the fan base in 2016, hitting a career-high 42 homers with a team-best 102 RBI. That was despite the awful start he got off to, hitting .143 and mustering just one RBI over his first 12 games.

Obviously, any chances the A’s have of improving last year’s American League-worst offense rely on the 29-year-old Davis having another big year. But over-analysis is one thing he tries to avoid.

“I don’t want to get caught up in last year — the slow start and the strong finish, whatever,” he said. “However it was, I’m just ready to do this year.”

Davis decided to back out of his plan to play for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, saying his main priority was preparing for his A’s season.

“My main focus is to perform for the organization,” he said. “I feel like I want to get off on the right foot this year.”

NOTEWORTHY: Heavy showers continued to pelt Mesa on Sunday, spoiling the A’s first full-squad workout. The hitters were relegated to swinging in the cages and playing catch, while pitchers were scheduled for a day off from throwing on the mound anyway.

“If ever there was a day, at least for the pitchers, that you don’t need to (work out), it’s today,” manager Bob Melvin said. “But when you have everybody there on the first day, you wanna get out on the field and do everything. Hopefully we can incorporate everything tomorrow.”

The A’s have a whopping 70 players in camp, more than in any other spring Melvin can remember as a big league manager. He addressed the full team in a meeting Sunday morning.

His message?

“We’re gonna have to outwork, out-hustle everybody like we have in the past,” he said, “and get back to playing the game with the same tenacity that we did a couple years ago.”

FAMILIAR FACE: Longtime A’s second baseman Mark Ellis is back for the second year in a row as a spring infield instructor. The plan is for Ellis to spend a week with the team now, then another week later in camp.

“I’ll take Mark Ellis as many days as I can have him,” Melvin said.

LIGHTER SIDE: Nursing his broken right foot, starting pitcher Daniel Mengden has been making his way through the clubhouse on a knee scooter in order to keep pressure off his foot.

Apparently, it looks more fun than it really is.

“I contribute to society Friday, when I can start walking again,” Mengden quipped.

Giants spring training Day 7: Rule change should help Bochy

Giants spring training Day 7: Rule change should help Bochy

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — On one of the many nights last season when his bullpen imploded, Bruce Bochy nearly put a catcher on the mound. Trevor Brown ended up playing an inning of third base on June 28 as the Giants gave up eight runs over the final two innings in a brutal loss to the A’s, and he said this week that he was told he was the next man up on the mound. 

That night was an odd one, as a tired bullpen was waiting for Sergio Romo to get activated off a rehab assignment and trying to get by without long reliever Chris Stratton, who had thrown 57 pitches out of the ‘pen the night before. The bench was also short because Joe Panik was about to be put on the concussion DL.

Bochy hopes he doesn’t have to deal with such a situation this season, and not just because the bullpen should be much improved. The disabled list lasts 10 days now, not 15, and Bochy is thrilled with the new rule.

“The DL thing, I really like it,” he said. “You get caught in that gray area so often.” 

Bochy met with league officials on Saturday to go over some of the rule changes. DL stints can now be made retroactive just three days, but it’s still a vast improvement overall. 

“With (position) players and pitchers it’s going to make it easier to DL guys,” Bochy said. “If you’re looking at (starting) pitchers, they could miss just one start.”

The Giants have often played a man or more short, trying to get by day-by-day to give a position player or starter time to heal. Around camp, this could be called the Angel Pagan Rule, as the former Giants outfielder often missed a week or so before officially going on the DL. At times, Bochy has been patient with players like Buster Posey and Hunter Pence, knowing that even if they missed a week, keeping them off the DL could still earn the Giants seven or eight games with a big bat back in the lineup. If a future diagnosis is that a player will miss a week, it’ll be much easier to swallow putting him on the 10-day DL than it was for the 15-day. Likewise, the Giants will take advantage of the change if a pitcher will have to miss a start. 

Bochy has said often that he would like every reliever to go on the DL during the season to freshen up. That’ll make more sense now, and it should keep the Giants from having to play as many games where the bullpen is gassed and a backup catcher is preparing to pitch. For guys like Stratton — a versatile pitcher on the 40-man roster — it should also lead to increased trips up to the big leagues to fill gaps. 

INJURY UPDATE: Pence (side muscle) took 25 swings during a live BP session in the cage and Bochy said he’s doing much better. That was about the only significant activity Sunday. Once again, the workout was rained out. Bochy said the Giants have enough time to get guys ready for the Cactus League opener on Feb. 24, but they’ll likely hold some big-name pitchers out of the early games. Brandon Crawford and Posey will get plenty of early starts to prepare for the WBC. 

PROSPECT WATCH: If the early games are turned over to prospects, Dan Slania will be an interesting guy to watch. Slania is listed at 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds, so he always had the look of an imposing reliever. But his greatest success last season came after a surprise move to the rotation. 

Slania, a 2013 fifth-round pick out of Notre Dame, got a call on his 24th birthday telling him to prepare to start because of an injury in Richmond’s rotation. He had not started a game since high school, but his four-pitch mix worked. He had a 5.32 ERA out of the bullpen but it dropped to 1.48 in 10 starts for the Flying Squirrels. In two Triple-A starts, he struck out 14 over 13 innings while allowing just eight hits and two runs. The Giants put him on their 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. 

“He had a great year last year,” Bochy said. “He’s in camp for a reason. He’s got great stuff and a good makeup.”

RULE CHANGE: One more thing that came out of that rules meeting: Managers who are out of challenges now have to wait until the eighth inning to ask an umpire to look at a play.

QUOTABLE: “We know he’s better off taking some days. We talked about it (with him). He agrees that it’ll help him.” Bochy on Pence’s workload. The right fielder is coming off two injury-marred seasons, and the Giants have no intention of even trying to get him back to his Iron Man days.