Urban: Tejada reclaims starting job at SS


Urban: Tejada reclaims starting job at SS

July 18, 2011


Follow @MUrbanCSN
Mychael Urban

Saddled with an inconsistent offense missing its two most pure hitters and featuring precious few steady contributors, Giants manager Bruce Bochy doesn't have the luxury of running out the same lineup day after day. As a result, he has no choice but to play whatever hot hand he might have on any given day. He's used those very words -- "hot hand" -- countless times this season, to the point that you can see him struggling to write out his lineup card every afternoon while fumbling to wrap oven mitts around his pen or pencil.He used them again Monday before the opener of a three-game series against the visiting Dodgers at AT&T Park in explaining why Miguel Tejada, who lost his starting job at shortstop when rookie Brandon Crawford came up from the minors sporting a scalding stick to match his slick glove, has essentially reclaimed that job."He's earned it," Bochy said of Tejada, who was signed to a one-year deal worth 6.5 million last November 30. "I like the way he's swinging the bat, and this gives us a chance to give 'Craw' a little bit of a break."Tejada, 37, was a massive disappointment in the season's first two months, batting .217 with little pop through June 1 while displaying little of the range and athleticism that made him one of the better shortstops in baseball during his prime years with the Oakland A's. The 2002 American League MVP has since turned things around a bit at the plate, however, batting .286 with seven doubles, three homers and 10 RBIs, and he's been particularly strong in July, batting .341 (14-for-41) with two doubles, two homers and six RBIs in 12 games through Sunday.Crawford, meanwhile, is mired in a 1-for-21 slump over his past six games through Sunday -- including 0-for-9 in the just-concluded four-game series in San Diego, where Tejada went 3-for-10 with a home run."I'm searching a little bit," Crawford said. "But we're working on some things, me and hitting coach Hensley Meulens, and I think we're heading in the right direction."Special instructor Shawon Dunston said Tejada, even while sitting on the bench behind Crawford, has served as something of a mentor and one-man cheer squad for the rookie."Miggy's good for Brandon, no matter who's playing," Dunston said. "I wish every young player had a guy like Miggy to help show 'em the ropes."Tejada's defense remains a concern; he's made eight errors for a .945 fielding percentage in 36 games at shortstop, faring better during his 42 games at third base while Pablo Sandoval was out and in four games at second base recently. Crawford, 24, has made seven errors for a .960 fielding percentage in 40 games at shortstop since his promotion on May 26.But unless there's a situation in which a double switch makes sense, don't expect Crawford to be used as a late-game defensive replacement."Rarely will I do that with a young player, especially a rookie," Bochy said of a one-for-one defensive swap late in a tight game. "It's not that easy for a young player to come off the bench like that late in a game, come into a tight ballgame where the pressure's on. Miggy'll have to find ways to get it done unless there's a double switch."Monday marked the second consecutive game in which Tejada, a right-handed hitter, got the nod at shortstop over Crawford, a lefty hitter, with a righty on the mound for the opponent.
UPDATE: Tejada suffered a lower abdominal strain while failing to field a ground ball in the hole in the third inning Monday and was immediately removed from the game; Crawford replaced him.
Dribblers : Bochy said no decision has been made on whether the team will skip Barry Zito's turn in the rotation Friday to keep the rest of the starters on regular rest. Were that move made, and given the Giants have this Thursday and next Monday off, Zito might not be needed to start a game until the July 29-31 series at Cincinnati. A decision could be announced as early as Monday night after the game. Lefty Jonathan Sanchez (biceps tendinitis) will make his next rehab start Friday for Triple-A Fresno. Asked if Brian Wilson might wear his skin-tight latex tuxedo to the White House on Monday, Bochy smiled and said, "I don't think they'd let him in."

Instant Replay: Kings shock Grizzlies late for second straight win

Instant Replay: Kings shock Grizzlies late for second straight win


SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings aren’t done fighting yet. In front of their home crowd, they pulled off their second consecutive shocker, this time dispatching the Memphis Grizzlies in dramatic fashion by the final of 91-90.

Darren Collison battled Mike Conley Jr. all night long at the point guard position. After scoring 19 against the Clippers on Sunday, Collison hit the Grizzlies for 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting and added a team-high seven assists. His free throw with 5.7 seconds remaining proved to be the game winner.

Rookie Buddy Hield continued his hot shooting, scoring 14 points on 5-for-12 shooting. The 23-year-old shooting guard is quickly establishing himself as a big time scoring option for the Kings moving forward.

Willie Cauley-Stein chipped in 12 points, nine rebounds and three assists. 7-footer Kosta Koufos found success against his former team, finishing with 11 points, five rebounds and three blocks before fouling out late.

Ty Lawson led the second unit with 10 points, while Anthony Tolliver went 4-of-7 from the field for nine points.

Conley Jr. received the biggest contract in NBA history during the offseason and he showed why Monday against the Kings. The veteran point guard dropped in 22 points and dished out nine assists as the Grizzlies fell to 40-34 on the season.

35-year-old big man Zach Randolph went to work in the post. The 16-year NBA vet dropped in 17 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, schooling the Kings frontline with the left-handed flip early in the game.

Brandan Wright came off the bench to score 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting and Troy Daniels added 10 points.  

Collison is heating up. Over his last two games, the veteran guard has scored 42 points on 16-for-24 shooting and kept his team in the ballgame.

Despite leading by eight on multiple occasions in the fourth quarter, Sacramento couldn’t close the door on the Grizzlies. Collison drew a foul with 5.7 remaining and his team trailing by one. He knocked down both freebies and Randolph missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer to help the Kings improve to 29-45 on the season.   

Arron Afflalo missed the game due to a personal matter and Tyreke Evans sat for scheduled rest. Rookie Malachi Richardson is officially out for the season with a right hamstring thickness tear. Rudy Gay is out for the year with a torn left Achilles.

The Kings are back at it Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center when the Utah Jazz roll through Sacramento. Following the matchup with Utah, the Kings travel to New Orleans to face former King DeMarcus Cousins on Friday evening.


Spurs destroy Cavs by 29, back within two of Warriors

Spurs destroy Cavs by 29, back within two of Warriors


SAN ANTONIO -- Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points and the San Antonio Spurs dismantled the ailing Cleveland Cavaliers 103-74 on Monday night in a showdown that turned into a major letdown for the defending NBA champions.

LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol added 14 points apiece for the Spurs, who won their fifth straight.

Cleveland (47-26) dropped its second in a row, set a season low for points and fell a half-game behind Boston (48-26) for the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Cavaliers star LeBron James was injured late in the third quarter after taking an elbow to the base of his neck. He remained on the bench for a while receiving medical attention, then headed toward the locker room and didn't return to the game.

His status was not immediately known.

Cleveland has been out of sync recently, losing three of five, and those struggles only got worse against San Antonio. The Spurs led by as many as 33 points to the delight of the sold-out crowd.

San Antonio (57-16) is two games behind Golden State (59-14) for the league's best record entering a home showdown with the Warriors on Wednesday.

Cleveland opted to play its stars rather than sit them for rest, but the trio of James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love sat out the fourth quarter of its second rout in the past two weeks.

James exited with 25 seconds remaining in the third after taking an elbow to his neck from David Lee on a rebound. James continually rubbed the area before collapsing after he crossed midcourt and remained on the floor for about a minute before walking unassisted to the bench. He left for the locker room early in the fourth quarter during a timeout.

James finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in 29 minutes.

The Spurs held the Cavaliers scoreless for three minutes after San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was issued a technical foul during a timeout with 6:38 remaining in the first half.

Leonard hit a right-handed runner as the second quarter closed to give the Spurs a 64-40 lead.

Cavaliers: Cleveland completed its schedule against the West, finishing 16-14. In addition to losing to the Spurs by 29 points, the Cavaliers lost by 35 to Golden State and 30 to the Los Angeles Clippers. . Cleveland F Kyle Korver missed his third straight game with a sore left foot, and the team plans to sit him for several games to see if rest and treatment helps. Korver will sit out Thursday in Chicago and Friday at home against Philadelphia before being re-evaluated, a team spokesman said. The shooting specialist missed seven games earlier this month with an inflamed tendon in his foot. . G Iman Shumpert missed his second consecutive game with a sore right knee. . James needs 24 points to pass Shaquille O'Neal for seventh overall in career scoring. O'Neal has 28,596 career points. . The Cavaliers averaged 116.3 points in their previous four games.

Spurs: San Antonio is holding its opponents to an average of less than 100 points for the 22nd straight season. . Danny Green tied his season high with four blocked shots. . Leonard has scored in double figures in 100 straight games.

Cavaliers: At the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night.

Spurs: Host the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.