Urban: Zito reflective before a sharp rehab outing


Urban: Zito reflective before a sharp rehab outing

June 6, 2011

STOCKTON -- The box score will show that Barry Zito put up a spectacular line: 6 23 innings, two hits, zero walks, six strikeouts, and a run that scored after he left with a runner on first and two out before the reliever gave up a walk and a single to let the inherited runner in.It'll also show that he was the winning pitcher for the San Jose Giants against the host Stockton Ports in his first rehab start Monday.Yet anyone who knows a thing about Zito's relationship with most San Francisco Giants fans knows that Monday was a no-win proposition if there ever were one.Dominate and the wisecracks come all too easy.
He's finally found his niche. In Single-A. Keep him there.If only he could face 20-year-olds every time out.For that kind of money, no way he should be giving up ANY hits in the minors.Lose, or pitch poorly, and it's the same chorus he's heard for the better part of his career in Orange & Black. What a bum.That's life for Zito, and to borrow Giants manager Bruce Bochy's current favorite phrase, he knows it.But a couple of hours before carving through the Ports on 82 pitches, Zito -- wearing shorts and a t-shirt while watching his young temporary teammates go through BP on the field below the bridge on which he stood at Banner Island Ballpark -- seemed at peace with the strange and uncertain place he finds his career these days."I'm fired up," he said. "This is going to be fun. I've missed pitching a ton, man. And this environment, where it's just baseball, none of the outside stuff, I love it."It showed. He didn't pitch mad, despite surely being aware that Bochy had the day before made it clear that Zito's rotation replacement "isn't going anywhere." He pitched with body language that reflected his pregame comments.His delivery was smooth, easy, crisp. Most of his pitches were on the black, and quite a few of them vintage curveballs. The Ports looked clueless most of the night; Zito faced one over the minimum thanks to a pair of double-play balls.His velocity was nothing to crow about; the stadium radar gun was clearly off, flashing 76 on a few fastballs, but it certainly wasn't 12 or 14 mph slow. One scout with his own gun said Zito's fastball sat between 84-86 most of the night, a slight improvement over what he was featuring before he sprained a ligament and landed on the disabled list on April 16.After the game Zito expressed very little interest in the gun, which at one point had one of his breaking balls at 54 mph.No, Zito has not developed an eephus pitch. The gun was just a little whacked out."It was showing some strange things up there," Zito said with a smile. "What it says isn't really a big deal to me, anyway. The ball felt great coming out of my hand and I knew where it was going. I've been working on some command things, so it was nice to see it working."He acknowledged that it was nice to get a standing ovation as he walked off the mound, too, but not because it provided what he calls a "dig-me moment."For in that moment, Vogelsong didn't matter. His standing with the Giants didn't matter. Where he heads next or for how long (no clue on either count, by the way) didn't matter, either.
"It was just a fun night," he said.
No matter what the hecklers are sure to say.

For Draymond Green, protests can't be short-lived: 'We're screwed' if they end soon

For Draymond Green, protests can't be short-lived: 'We're screwed' if they end soon

OAKLAND -- Easing into a seat for an interview a half hour after the Warriors finished practice Monday, Draymond Green responded to the first six questions at decibels barely above a whisper.

There was candor on basketball matters, because there always is with Green, but the power forward’s tone was relatively relaxed.

Not until the next several questions, all related to America’s polarizing sociopolitical climate, did Green’s heart and mind lock into rhythm. Asked if he believes the current wave of protests against inequality will go away soon, his voice picked up volume and conviction.

“I hope not,” Green said. “If it goes away, then we still have a problem. So I hope it’s not going away in a few weeks. Then we’ve missed the message again.

“So, no, I don’t think it’ll be gone away in a few weeks. And I pray that it’s not, because it’s not a problem that can be fixed in a few weeks. So, no, it shouldn’t be gone in a few weeks.”

Green acknowledged that he did not see the demonstrations that were spread across the NFL landscape on Sunday. He was, he said, out shopping and enjoying the day with his children.

He was aware that some teams stayed in the locker room during the anthem, that others knelt on the sidelines and that some linked arms. Being aware was not enough for Green to feel comfortable addressing that aspect.

But he’s very familiar with the subject matter.

“You just have to stand for what you believe in,” Green said during an answer than lasted more than two full minutes. “What everyone else may believe in, you may not believe in.”

Articulating the difference between the life of the athlete and that of a soldier, Green explaining that he has the “utmost respect” for those in the military.

“I just hope that there can be an understanding that this isn’t against the military,” he said. “It’s not to disrespect anything they do. Because I think everyone respects what they do . . . I appreciate everything they do.”

It was evident, however, that Green is on the same page as those pushing for the progress that would make America great, allowing the country to live up to its pledges stated in the constitution and elsewhere.

That’s why he hopes this activism is not a trend but a movement.

“I’m not saying kneeling shouldn’t be gone,” Green said. “But this conversation, trying to make these changes, absolutely not. If it’s gone in a few weeks, we’re screwed.”

Giants lineup: Pence leading off, lefties back in against D'backs

Giants lineup: Pence leading off, lefties back in against D'backs

After batting fourth on Sunday in Los Angeles, Hunter Pence is back in the leadoff spot in the series opener against Arizona.

Additionally, Denard Span, Joe Panik and Jarrett Parker return after sitting against Clayton Kershaw.

San Francisco Giants:
1. Hunter Pence (R) RF
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Denard Span (L) CF
4. Buster Posey (R) 1B
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Pablo Sandoval (S) 3B
7. Jarrett Parker (L) LF
8. Nick Hundley (R) C
9. Johnny Cueto (R) P

Arizona Diamondbacks:
1. Gregor Blanco (L) LF
2. Kristopher Negron (R) SS
3. Brandon Drury (R) 2B
4. Christian Walker (R) 1B
5. Rey Fuentes (L) CF
6. Adam Rosales (R) 3B
7. Jeremy Hazelbaker (L) RF
8. John Ryan Murphy (R) C
9. Zack Godley (R) P