Urban: Torres' Pain Opens Door For Would-Be Heroes


Urban: Torres' Pain Opens Door For Would-Be Heroes

Sept. 12,2010
Mychael UrbanCSNBayArea.com

SAN DIEGO --Before the first pitch was thrown Sunday, the Giants suffered a significantloss: Center fielderleadoff mansparkplug Andres Torres.Rushed to alocal hospital for an emergency appendectomy, Torres is expected to miss 10-14days. Its a potentially devastating blow for the Giants, because while muchhas been made of their outfield depth in general, deep in center field they arenot.Nor are theychock full of leadoff candidates. Hence, the return of Aaron Rowand to the roleSunday for the finale of the big four-game series against the host Padres atPETCO Park.The options incenter? Rowand and Cody Ross, with Darren Ford available in the event offurther emergencies.Rowand is aformer Gold Glover out there, but hes no longer an elite defender. Solid,though, as long as hes throwing to the right base and hitting cutoff men.Ross can playall over the outfield, but hes played more in center as a big leaguer thananywhere else. He runs better than Rowand and has a more consistent arm.Neither of them,however, is on Torres level -- and that much will be painfully apparent whenthe Giants get back to the wide-open spaces of AT&T Park. Torres, were hea bigger name with a longer resume, would be a very strong Gold Glovecandidate. Not only does he make a ton of spectacular plays, but he also makesthe right play, the right throw, and hemakes it far easier for manager Bruce Bochy to play range-challenged PatBurrell and Jose Guillen on the outfield corners.Offensively,Torres will be only slightly easier to replace. Hes been a great story allyear, riding white-hot streaks into conversations about who might be the teamsmost valuable player. But hes also prone to slumps, and hes been slumping oflate, batting .114 through the first nine games of the 10-game road trip thatended Sunday.If Rowand startsin center, hell probably lead off if only because hes the one guy on the teamwith significant recent experience at it, and itd be a heck of a story itselfif Rowand got hot and played a key role down the stretch.If Ross startsin center, perhaps Freddy Sanchez moves up from the No. 2 hole.Ford? Probablytoo much to ask of the kid to play a starting role during a pennant race.Better to keep him in a position to succeed, i.e., trying to impact games latewith his legs.No matter whatthe Giants do in Torres absence, the development is a bummer. But whats apennant race without a little adversity? Besides, adversity opens the door forunsung heroes, and whats a pennant race without one or two of those?

Report: Melancon rubbed Giants teammates wrong way early in season

Report: Melancon rubbed Giants teammates wrong way early in season

This past offseason, the Giants overhauled the back of their bullpen. Out went mainstays Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez. In came prized free agent Mark Melancon.

It was supposed to be a seamless transition for one of the most reliable closers in baseball.

But nearly three months in, Melancon is one of many Giants players struggling while the team flounders in last place in the NL West with a 27-51 record.

And it appears Melancon's relationship with his new teammates didn't get off to a great start.

Melancon "rubbed some teammates the wrong way early in the season" by canceling a longstanding pregame stretching session with the other relievers that was implemented long before he joined the team, according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

That's not the only stretching-related issue to impact the Giants. Manager Bruce Bochy had to get involved when several veterans were reportedly late on multiple occasions for the team stretching session.

“I dropped the ball. I’ve been doing this so long, you take for granted that they know what I want. These guys were used to doing it how they’ve done it — ‘I have my own routine. I’m not going to stretch.’ But we do stretch as a team here. They all have to be out there,” Bochy said.

Closers are known to have unique routines and Bochy addressed that as well.

“Sometimes other relievers … maybe they get a little taken aback by it. I don’t know what (closer) doesn’t have a routine like that,” Bochy said.

General Manager Bobby Evans addressed the claim that Melancon is rubbing teammates the wrong way and defended his closer's role in the clubhouse.

“To whatever degree it hasn’t manifested itself or to the extent it’s manifested itself in the perception of some negatively, I can assure you that was not Mark’s intention. Mark is a team guy,” Evans said.

Melancon, who has a 4.58 ERA and 11 saves in 15 chances this season, has three years and $53 million left on his contract with the Giants.

Forecasting who should and will win 2017 NBA awards

Forecasting who should and will win 2017 NBA awards

The private jets have arrived, most of the swank parties are on and the red carpet has been laid. The NBA is set to announce from New York the winners of its individual awards Monday night at 6 p.m. on TNT.

Rapper Drake, a very public fan of the NBA, will serve as the host. Among the presenters are actors Nick Cannon, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Jesse Williams, as well as athletes Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce. In addition, Nicki Minaj is scheduled as the music guest.

The NBA clearly wants to make a splash in its inaugural show.

Here is our forecast for the six major awards to be presented:

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks: Rare combination of defensive skill, offensive tools and superior athleticism. Began the season as a Top-50 player, ended it in Top 15.

Rudy Gobert, Jazz: Still raw offensively, arguably the best rim protector in the NBA made appreciable improvement on defense. He’s what Dwight Howard used to be.

Nikola Jokic, Nuggets: Improved enough to be mentioned among best European centers ever to reach the NBA. He’s only 22 and bound to get even better.

Should win: Antetokounmpo.

Will win: Antetokounmpo.

Eric Gordon, Rockets: Improved conditioning and revived his career after offseason trade from Pelicans. He finished No. 2 among NBA bench scorers.

Andre Iguodala, Warriors: WD-40 for whatever the league’s best team needs, whether it’s offense or defense or leadership. Not among the top 15 bench scorers.

Lou Williams, Rockets: Ace shooter split season between woeful Lakers and playoff-bound Rockets. Led all bench scorers in scoring. Plays no defense.

Should win: Iguodala.

Will win: Gordon.

Rudy Gobert, Jazz: See above.

Draymond Green, Warriors: Best team defender in the league, finished second in the balloting the past two seasons. Got better, making several game-saving defensive plays.

Kawhi Leonard, Spurs: Best on-ball defender in the league. Won the award in each of the past two seasons. Defensive numbers dropped a bit this season.

Should win: Green.

Will win: Green.

Malcolm Brogdon, Bucks: Second-round draft pick evolved to become starting PG on playoff team. Showed respectable two-way ability and the savvy of a veteran.

Joel Embiid, Sixers: Hands down, most impressive rookie in the league and future franchise player. Played only 31 of 82 games, though. Does that constitute a season?

Dario Saric, Sixers: Impressive, multi-skilled forward with a smooth touch and a nice feel for the game. Two-time Rookie of the month. Played 81 games.

Should win: Saric.

Will win: Saric.

Mike D’Antoni, Rockets: Took over a dramatically revamped team, implemented his style and far exceeded reasonable expectations. Co-winner in a vote of coaches.

Gregg Popovich, Spurs: Still the league’s gold standard and once again got the most of his team while simultaneously phasing out the old and installing the new.

Erik Spoelstra, Heat: 30-11 second half among best recoveries in NBA history, pulling bottom-five team into the playoff race until final day. Co-winner in vote of coaches.

Should win: D’Antoni.

Will win: D’Antoni.

James Harden, Rockets: Officially became PG for the first time and led league in assists while operating a new offense without sacrificing scoring. Improved on defense, from abysmal to almost satisfactory.

Kawhi Leonard, Spurs: Probably the best two-way player in the league moved into leadership role and hardly skipped a beat. Does it all without flash, practically undercover. A treasure.

Russell Westbrook, Thunder: Most scintillating player in the league, constantly in overdrive. Set record for most triple-double in a season, while averaging a triple-double for the season.

Should win: Harden.

Will win: Westbrook.