Urban: Giants' Whiteside under the gun


Urban: Giants' Whiteside under the gun

May 30, 2011

It's your gig, Eli Whiteside. Your time to shine. To prove you deserve the faith Giants general manager Brian Sabean says he has in you. Oh, and a little friendly advice: Make it snappy. Faith has a way of dissolving in a steady stream of 0-for-4's -- especially when they're coming amidst steady such streams from elsewhere in the lineup, and the reigning champs are soaking their way around the Midwest in that manner as we speak.Until Sunday, surely the Giants and their fans held out at least feint hopes that if the team were to reach the playoffs this fall, Buster Posey would ride in on a majestic white stallion, tell everybody to climb aboard and gallop, full-steed ahead, toward a successful defense of the world championship. Not even Posey's miniature press conference Friday, when he conceded it was "highly likely" that his season was over, fully extinguished the aforementioned hopes.After all, he's Buster Posey. The Giants' very own Chuck Norris, for crying out loud. Their Most Interesting Man in the Clubhouse. Surely he'd be able to conjure some sort of sorcery should his services be desperately needed come October.But then came Sunday and a big dose of reality in the form of another miniature press conference, this one hosted by a far less interesting but no less important man in the Giants' scheme of things. Head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner made it crystal clear that there will be no channeling Willis Reed for Buster Ballgame. No dramatic return, however short-lived, to the lineup. Not this year, anyway. Opening Day 2012, said the man they call "Gresh." That's probably the best-case scenario.LISTEN: Posey's post-surgery conference call
And so it's officially time for everyone associated with the Orange & Black to think more clearly and objectively than ever about LWB -- life without Buster. For the rest of the season.First up, Whiteside. The pitchers love him, and he gets bonus points for not just taking Prince Fielder's best shot -- and a cheap shot it was, with that forearm coming in way too close to Whiteside's melon -- but for giving Prince a bit of a punching after the fact.Alas, Whiteside is a career minor leaguer and big-league backup for a reason. He's a tad challenged offensively. That's the widely held perception, anyway, and there's only one way Whiteside can change it.If he doesn't, his rope will get shorter in direct correlation with the Giants' spot in the National League West standings.And if he doesn't, who's after Whiteside? It's not going to be Chris Stewart. Same issues as with Whiteside offensively.THE BIG URBCAST: Are the Giants' minor league catchers ready?
It's not going to be Pablo Sandoval, either. He's already said he has zero interest in catching when he gets back from hand surgery.Bengie Molina? It'd be a heck of a story, and Bengie says he's up for it, but there might be some bad blood between him and the organization, particularly Sabean, whom Molina pot-shotted after being traded to Texas last year. Then again, desperation occasionally ends up being the Clorox that cleans up bad blood. Stay tuned.LWB, at the very least, will be fascinating.

Khris Davis bows out of World Baseball Classic


Khris Davis bows out of World Baseball Classic

MESA, Ariz. -- A's left fielder Khris Davis confirmed that he won't play for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.

Davis said he felt "terrible" about the decision, but that he wanted his undivided attention to be on preparing for his second season with Oakland.

"I kind of feel over-extended," he said shortly before the A's hit the field for their first full-squad workout of the season.

Coming off a season where he clubbed a career-best 42 home runs with 102 RBI, Davis said he wouldn't dwell on the incredibly slow start he had in 2016 or the monster numbers he proceeded to put up after that. But he's ready to help the A's try to rebound from back-to-back last place finishes.

"There's a lot of excitement, I can feel it."

Hermanson scores 17, No. 22 Saint Mary's beats BYU 70-57


Hermanson scores 17, No. 22 Saint Mary's beats BYU 70-57

PROVO, Utah — Saint Mary's knows all about the raucous atmosphere at BYU. The Gaels hadn't won in Provo since 2013 and had only come out on top in three of their previous 12 trips.

Make it four out of 13.

Calvin Hermanson scored 17 points and No. 22 Saint Mary's cruised to a 70-57 victory over BYU on Saturday night, snapping a three-game road losing streak to its West Coast Conference rival.

"It's definitely one of the tougher places to play for us," Hermanson said. "Coming in here we know it's a huge crowd and we know they can get riled up on any 3-point shot or any run they make. We wanted to try to limit their runs and their big plays.

"The second half was pretty unbelievable how quiet the crowd was. It felt great for us."

With two games remaining on the regular-season schedule, the Gaels (24-3, 14-2) clinched a second-place finish in the conference standings behind top-ranked and undefeated Gonzaga.

Saint Mary's controlled the game most of the night, riding its staunch defense on one end and running efficient offense on the other. The Gaels were able to get to the rim consistently, but also knocked down 10 3-pointers.

BYU (19-10, 10-6) shot 39.7 percent from the field and connected on four 3s.

Evan Fitzner had 15 points for Saint Mary's, including 11 in the second half.

"We didn't turn the ball over and we shot the ball well," Gaels coach Randy Bennett said, "and were able to get some separation and then it made it tough on them. We kind of just wore them out after that.

"We're a little different team with Fitzner out there. He spaces the floor," Bennett added. "We just play a little different with Fitzner out there versus Jock (Landale). It's nice to have a Plan A and Plan B."

Saint Mary's took a 41-30 lead into halftime thanks to Hermanson's hot shooting and plenty of that trademark defense. The Gaels began the day ranked second in the nation in scoring defense, then held the Cougars to 37.9 percent shooting from the field in the first 20 minutes.

Saint Mary's shot 57.1 percent at the other end, including a 3-for-4 effort from Hermanson from behind the arc.

"I feel like we're better than we showed tonight," BYU guard TJ Haws said. "That team made a lot of runs on us. Tough defensive and offensive team. Very poised and disciplined.

"I want our team to just fight. When they punch us in the face, I want us to punch them right back."

BYU kept Landale under control in the half — and in foul trouble throughout — but Saint Mary's scored 22 of its 41 first-half points in the paint.

Eric Mika had 18 points for BYU, and Yoeli Childs added 13.

"The key to the game was that they were comfortable the entire time in our gym," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "That's on us. We need to be ahead. We need to get them to speed up a little bit because they're a little bit uncomfortable.

"But the game went pretty much exactly how they wanted it to go and we couldn't flip it. We couldn't get on top."


Saint Mary's: The Gaels will be the No. 2 seed in the WCC tournament. No. 1 Gonzaga secured the regular-season title Saturday with a win over Pacific. An early December defeat to UT-Arlington is the Gaels' only bad loss this season, with the other two coming against Gonzaga.

BYU: The Cougars likely needed a win against the No. 22 team in the country to make an argument for the NCAA Tournament off their regular-season credentials. BYU has lost all three games against ranked opponents by double digits, including to Saint Mary's twice, and doesn't have a signature win. The Cougars get one last chance against Gonzaga next Saturday.


No. 22 Saint Mary's might find itself moving up a bit after No. 17 Florida State and No. 21 South Carolina lost on Saturday.


Saint Mary's: Travel to face Pepperdine on Thursday.

BYU: Play at Portland on Thursday.