Shaw succeeding in shadows

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Shaw succeeding in shadows

Theres been no jarring chord changes, no dissonant notes. David Shaw blends right in, like soothing background music.

Like Sade perhaps, Shaws pregame listening of choice.

As Stanford readies for its biggest game of the year on Saturday evening against Oregon, the focus is on Andrew Luck. Of course. Stanfords Heisman trophy candidate is the face and personality of the team.

And when the focus isnt on Luck, its on Shaws predecessor, Jim Harbaugh. Just down the road and performing the kind of alchemy on the 49ers that he worked at Stanford, Harbaughs presence still looms over the Cardinal program.
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Where the focus is definitely not is on Shaw, who is working in the shadows. But Shaw is making a bid to become just the third rookie head coach to win a national title, in his first year as Harbaughs successor.

Easy right? Taking over an established program and just letting it roll along on autopilot. But thats totally discounting what Shaw has done.

Hes become the George Seifert of the college game -- taking over from a superstar coach, the beneficiary of a great quarterback, but having the huge responsibility of keeping the program on track. Screw it up and youre ruined forever. Keep it going and you get no credit.

When Harbaugh left he not only took his oversized personality to the 49ers he also took Stanfords offensive and defensive coordinators. He left behind a program with high expectations, the most high profile player in the country and a culture that hasnt exactly cultivated big-time college football (and can we just say, during this week of Penn State horrors, hooray for that?).

It could have all gone very wrong in the hands of the wrong coach, say a Buddy Teevens or a Walt Harris.
RELATED: Stanford's unsung hero

But Shaw -- to quote his favorite entertainer - is a smooth operator. Hes made the transition seamless. Hes felt no need to assert his own ego. He doesnt mind the shadows. Doesnt mind the BCS politics. Doesnt ask what anyones deal is. Doesnt appear to have an enthusiasm unknown to mankind. Isnt the constant subject of speculation about what his next job will be.

He just wants to win, and thats what hes been doing. The Cardinal has won 17 straight games, the longest winning streak in the nation. The last loss was to Oregon -- in Eugene -- on Oct. 2, 2010.

Shaws approach is one of balance and perspective. So on the eve of the biggest game hes coached to date, dont expect Shaw to be any different.

I personally dont change, he said Tuesday. If something funny happens in practice, I laugh. If something happens that I dont like, I address it.

Though he seems as laid back as a mellow jazz station, Shaws players have let it be known that hes quick to get on them. And he has their back. On Tuesday he sharply defended Luck against Phil Simms contrarian blather that Luck isnt making NFL throws.

He hasnt been looking closely enough, Shaw said. To say he cant make NFL throws is comical.

Shaw doesnt feel the need to rail against the injustices of the BCS -- thats not really the Stanford way (though it would be the Stanford way if an computer engineering major could figure out how to hack the BCS computers).

TOMPKINS: Ducks-Cardinal promises a shootout

It has absolutely no bearing on what happens on Saturdays, Shaw said. The BCS matters when all the regular season and conference championship games are over. Up until then, its a TV show. An entertaining TV showThey can put us at No. 3, they can put us at 2, they can put us at 10. Weve still got to play Oregon.

The hype will be enormous Saturday. The nations football focus (different than the nations scandal focus) will be on the Stanford campus.

But Shaw will keep it in perspective. Hes got two things going for him: hes the son of a coach so game day has been a lifelong reality not just a hyped up product. And hes a Stanford product so a sense of balance is ingrained in his nature.

This campus does a great job of keeping your perspective, Shaw said. He talked of the businesses that are being created on campus. He spoke of one doctor he talked to who is working on a cure for rare disease.

Stanford-Oregon is not high on his list, Shaw said with a laugh.

The focus is on Stanford this week. But Shaw will still find a way to step out of the spotlight.

Giants spring training Day 39: Nuñez receives pair of cortisone shots

Giants spring training Day 39: Nuñez receives pair of cortisone shots

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford will return to camp Thursday, show off their WBC championship medals, and then head to nearby Salt River Fields to take on the Colorado Rockies. It'll be a few more days, however, before the Giants have their full infield on the field. 

Eduardo Nuñez said he actually got two cortisone shots in his right shoulder, since an MRI this week showed “something” in two separate spots. Nuñez asked for the MRI because, while he was able to play and make strong throws, he felt pain on a daily basis. He might DH this weekend, but it'll be a few more days before he's cleared to begin throwing. 

The Giants are hopeful that the shots calm all this down, and Nuñez anticipated being ready for Opening Day. Still, it certainly sounds like this will be a close call. Conor Gillaspie, who is having a huge spring, could get plenty of early time at third. Manager Bruce Bochy doesn't anticipate Nuñez missing Opening Day.

"He should be ready," Bochy said. 

The Giants need all the good injury news they can get. It is expected that Will Smith will announce Friday that he's having Tommy John surgery. 

ICYMI: From this morning, a feature on George Kontos and his rise over the last few years. 

Also, one of the bench candidates, Gordon Beckham, asked for his release. The Giants will soon have to make decisions on Hill and David Hernandez, who have similar retention bonuses due March 28.

GAME RECAP: The Giants played one of their uglier games of the spring, losing 9-2 to King Felix and the Mariners … Matt Moore lasted just 1 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on four hits, two walks, a balk and a wild pitch. It was the same old thing: Moore just all of a sudden lost his command, and because he got up past the 30-pitch mark in the second inning alone, the Giants cut it off. Moore went down to the bullpen and got up to around 80 pitches. He'll make one more start down here, Tuesday against the Cubs ... Joe Panik had a hard double, one of just four hits for the Giants … Chris Marrero hasn’t played a whole lot of left field this spring, and he didn’t show much to the coaches on a couple of opportunities to throw home. The left field situation remains a mystery. 

POSITION BATTLES: Kelby Tomlinson played six innings of left field in a minor league game, and he had to wait until the sixth to get his first and only fly ball. There seemed to be a lot of interest from decision-makers about how Tomlinson fared, and his action today opens up an intriguing possibility. There’s a roster permutation that has the Giants keeping just one reserve outfielder (Gorkys Hernandez) and three backup infielders: Conor Gillaspie, Aaron Hill and Kelby Tomlinson, with the latter two being options in left field. 

FAMILIAR FACE: Angel Pagan made it through the WBC healthy, and he apparently is drawing interest from the Phillies and Blue Jays. Giants people are confident Pagan will get a big league job somewhere over the coming week. 

Giants reliever Will Smith leaning toward season-ending Tommy John surgery

Giants reliever Will Smith leaning toward season-ending Tommy John surgery

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Left-hander Will Smith, a key piece of a revamped bullpen, is leaning toward having Tommy John surgery, manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday night. 

Bochy said surgery was the recommendation of both doctors who examined Smith's elbow this week. Smith will talk to his agent before coming to a final decision on Friday. The procedure would keep Smith out the entire 2017 season and likely would cause him to miss the start of the 2018 season.

Smith, 27, missed the first month of camp because of pain in his throwing elbow. He returned March 17, but during a March 20 outing he again felt pain and called for a trainer. A second round of diagnostics revealed a strain and a sprain in the elbow. Smith saw team orthopedist Dr. Ken Akizuki in San Francisco and flew to Los Angeles this week to get a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlen-Jobe Clinic. 

"They had the same opinion," Bochy said. "There is a tear there. You can try to rehab it and if that doesn't work you're behind a couple of months ... It's not a definite he's going to have it done, but two doctors are in agreement on what this is."

Smith was expected to serve as the late lefty for the Giants, getting setup work in the seventh and eighth innings. With Smith out, the Giants will lean on young lefties Steven Okert, Josh Osich and Ty Blach. 

"We're going to have to have someone step up and help us in the seventh and eighth," Bochy said. "That was going to be will's role. He's a guy we were leaning on."

Smith was acquired from the Brewers at the deadline last season in exchange for right-hander Phil Bickford (who is currently serving a 50-game suspension) and catcher Andrew Susac (who is currently injured). After a shaky start, he finished the regular season with 18 consecutive scoreless appearances. 

The Giants have for the most part avoided Tommy John for 40-man roster pitchers. Hunter Strickland, Derek Law and Josh Osich have all had it during their time in the organization, along with outfielder Mac Williamson. Prospect Ian Gardeck is currently recovering from Tommy John. The last Giants pitcher who was likely headed for the roster before having Tommy John was left-hander Eric Surkamp. He had surgery in 2012.

The timetable is different for every pitcher, but the general consensus is that the procedure sidelines a pitcher for at least a year, and usually closer to 16 months. Matt Moore, Thursday night’s starter, had Tommy John on April 23, 2014. He did not return to a big league mound until July 2, 2015, and even then, he was under restrictions. 

Smith is under team control for two more seasons after this one.