Urban: Giants 'gripping' without Beltran


Urban: Giants 'gripping' without Beltran

Aug. 10, 2011


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Mychael Urban

SAN FRANCISCO -- Carlos Beltran has a sore wrist and the Giants are off Thursday, so Beltran didn't play Wednesday.It made sense in every way; Beltran is the Giants' offensive bell cow, whether he's earned that title since his arrival or not. And the last thing you want is for your golden goose, however temporary or even silverbronze he might be, to fight a nagging injury while fighting late-season fatigue and fellow contenders down the stretch.RECAP: Giants walk eight Pirates, fall 9-2 to lose series
So give him the day off. Thursday's a freebie. Again, makes all the sense in the world.

Unfortunately, when you're the defending world champions and lucky to be in first place but mired in the kind of offensive funk that Beltran was brought in to help avoid, sense and rational thinking and anything else associated with less than all-out panic don't resonate right now with a fan base finally coming to grips with its own greed.In the euphoria of early November 2010, a lot of fans proclaimed such satisfaction with having finally experienced that long-elusive World Series high that they'd temper their expectations for a few years, soak it all in, give the boys something of a pass.Yeah, and that lasted about halfway through spring training.
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That's why the Beltran situation is officially something on which to keep a very close eye. Hell, given the current state of the Giants, it might even be something worth flipping out over -- at least between now and Friday, which is when the club is "hopeful" about Beltran being back.Not to crank up the volume on the alarm, but the Giants were hopeful that Freddy Sanchez would make it back this season, too. And like Sanchez, Beltran has a very recent and very bad injury history.And like Sanchez, who lost a couple of months of post-surgery recovery time in an attempt to rehab his shredded throwing shoulder with exercise, Beltran is suffering from an injury that's kind of a big deal relative to the rigors of his job. Find a hitter without strong and healthy wrists and you'll find a hitter who isn't hitting.Or isn't playing. Either way, a big blow to the champs' collective psyche. Or should we say another big blow, along with Buster Posey's injury and Sanchez's injury and Barry Zito's continued demise and Jonathan Sanchez's latest debacle, or ... you get the picture.Perhaps you've heard the popular new phrase in baseball when it comes to pressing, stressing and digressing. It's "gripping." Not gripping as in, last year's playoff run was gripping. Gripping as in, the Giants are gripping when they get runners in scoring position. And boy, are they ever.Well, here's another spin on gripping, a triple-grip: If Carlos Beltran isn't gripping a bat Friday, the Giants and their fans will be gripping, and the Giants themselves will cease to be gripping (in that good way) until he is.

A's find two bright spots in tough shutout loss to Astros

A's find two bright spots in tough shutout loss to Astros

HOUSTON — Some losses go down tougher than others, and that’s true for Bob Melvin whether it’s April or whether it’s August and his team is playing out the string.

The body language and demeanor said it all for the A’s manager Saturday after a 3-0 loss to the Astros, in which Oakland didn’t advance a single runner past second base.

Houston right-hander Collin McHugh brought a 4.88 ERA into the game over five starts since returning from a shoulder injury. He wound up celebrating his first victory of 2017 after six stellar innings.

“He threw the ball good, (but) I expected us to score some runs tonight,” Melvin said.

The A’s were done in by five ground-ball double plays, including a game-ending 5-4-3 job from Ryon Healy, which was reversed on replay review after Healy initially was called safe.

“Those things are killers,” catcher Bruce Maxwell said. “It just didn’t roll our way today.”

So the A’s (53-70) were left to pick through the scraps of this one to find some silver linings, and there were a couple.

Kendall Graveman held Houston to two runs over six innings, and the damage off him came on a two-run single from Marwin Gonzalez that glanced off the glove of second baseman Jed Lowrie. It was the second strong outing in a row for Graveman, who’s now got four starts under his belt since returning from his second stint on the disabled list this season for shoulder issues.

Most encouraging from his standpoint was he didn’t really have his best stuff, yet still managed to limit an opponent that leads the majors in every significant offensive category, including runs, batting average and homers.

“I think it’s the first one where I’ve been back when I had to kind of pitch and grind through,” said Graveman (3-4). “I didn’t have my best stuff. It’s just one of those where you’ve got to get out there and compete.”

The highlight of the game for the A’s came when center fielder Boog Powell unleashed a strike to home plate that nailed Alex Bregman trying to score from second on Jose Altuve’s single in the fifth.

Maxwell barely had to move his mitt to apply the tag, and count the A’s catcher as the most surprised person in the ballpark that Powell even gave him a chance on the play.

“It caught me off guard,” Maxwell admitted. “I haven’t played with Powell in a long time. I didn’t expect there to be that big of a play at home. He was fairly deep in the outfield as well.”

Powell, a 24-year-old rookie who was acquired from Seattle for Yonder Alonso, said he’s worked on his throwing in the minors in recent seasons.

“I didn’t (have a good arm) back in the day,” Powell said. “I’m definitely improving my arm strength. I pride myself on getting the ball out as quick as I can.”

It’s the kind of play that sticks in the memory bank as Powell tries to make his mark in the wide open battle to be the A’s center fielder in 2018. His throw to ring up Bregman was at least one moment from Saturday night that gave Melvin reason to smile.

“He can play the outfield, no doubt about it,” Melvin said. “It was a big play at the time, and it should give you a little momentum to go back out there and do a little better offensively.”

Despite injury concerns, Foster, Bowman play 20 snaps in exhibition vs Broncos


Despite injury concerns, Foster, Bowman play 20 snaps in exhibition vs Broncos

SANTA CLARA -- Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster, who was limited in Thursday’s practice due to a shoulder sprain, started the 49ers’ exhibition game Saturday night against the Denver Broncos at Levi's Stadium.

Foster played 20 snaps and recorded one tackle before the 49ers’ first-team defense was removed in the second quarter.

There were some concerns when Foster was included on the 49ers’ pre-practice injury report Thursday with an injury to his surgically repaired shoulder. But the 49ers said the injury was not related to the torn rotator cuff he sustained for Alabama in the national semifinal game against Washington.

NaVorro Bowman, who was removed from practice Thursday with a similar shoulder condition, also started and played every snap alongside Foster. Bowman was credited with two tackles.

With Foster and Bowman on the field, the Broncos totaled just 63 yards of total offense.