Giants Insider notebook: Speed kills

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Giants Insider notebook: Speed kills

April 26, 2011BOX SCORE GIANTS VIDEOMLB PAGE MLB SCOREBOARDMychael Urban
CSNBayArea.com
Goat to hero: Darren Ford, who failed to execute a bunt properly in the top of the 10th inning, turned his night around very quickly by scampering all the way to third base after a pick-off attempt went awry and then -- pulling a move straight out of the Little League playbook -- boldly dashing for home while Freddy Sanchez was grounding out with the infield in. Speed: You can't teach it and it kills.RECAP: Giants ride Ford's speed to 3-2 win over Pirates
"I know the game is on the line," Ford told Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper on the game broadcast. "I gotta go out there and use my speed and it worked out today."
This is not the first time Ford's speed has led to a Giants win. On Sept. 1, 2010 -- the day he was called up -- Ford entered a tie game against the Rockies as a pinch-runner and scored the go-ahead run when he tried to steal third base, saw the throw sail into the outfield and made it all the way home.

Uncle Nasty: Pirates starter Charlie Morton gave the Giants fits all night, dominating with pinpoint command of a sinker that CSN Bay Area analyst Shawn Estes compared to that of Kevin Brown, who at one time was the top sinkerballer in the game. Morton, who flummoxed the Braves organization as a prospect with all the physical tools but much to be learned about the mental side, appears to have put it all together in the Steel City. He slipped a sinker under Buster Posey's bat for a tone-setting strikeout early in the game, and he went back to it over and over with great success.Cain was able: It was turn-back-the-clock time for Giants starter Matt Cain, and a pleasant trip to yesteryear it wasn't. Cain, formerly the poster boy for criminal lack of run support, spent the whole night working without a safety net. For a while it looked like Garret Jones' solo home run in the second inning on a hanging breaking ball was going to be all the Bucs needed, but Aubrey Huff's sixth-inning sacrifice fly locked things back up -- momentarily. Lyle Overbay's poke past third baseman Pablo Sandoval in the bottom of the frame put the Pirates back in front and again brought to the game the feeling that the Giants' only hope was to get Morton off the mound. Cain gave up four hits and a walk while striking out six over six strong innings.Chess match: Pirates manager Clint Hurdle appeared to do the Giants a favor when he lifted Morton with runners at first and second and nobody out in the seventh inning, but that's how much faith Hurdle has in his bullpen. At that point, Giants manager Bruce Bochy had a huge decision to make: have Cody Ross bunt the runners over, or let him take his hacks against Pittsburgh right-hander Chris Resop. Bochy decided against it; no surprise there. Ross has home-run power, and Bochy isn't big on bunting in general. But it backfired, with Ross and struggling Miguel Tejada both popping out in foul ground, and pinch hitter Mike Fontenot struck out to end the promising threat.Big-time Buster: It's what he does. It's who he is. Just when the Giants looked ready to shoot themselves in the foot again, after Aubrey Huff popped out with runners at the corners and nobody out in the eighth, Buster Posey jumped on the first pitch he saw from Jose Veras and launched it high and deep to left field for the game-tying sacrifice fly that took Cain off the hook for the loss. Props to Freddy Sanchez, too, for executing a hit-and-run by shooting a single through the left side to allow pinch runner Darren Ford to glide from first to third ahead of Huff's at-bat.

A's spring training Day 8: Top pick AJ Puk attracts a crowd

A's spring training Day 8: Top pick AJ Puk attracts a crowd

MESA, Ariz. — The A’s are excited about 2016 top pick A.J. Puk, that much was apparent by the crowd the lefty attracted for his first “live” bullpen session Tuesday.

Among those watching closely were executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane, general manager David Forst, manager Bob Melvin and pitching coach Curt Young.

Puk, who shaved about 20 pounds off his 6-foot-7 frame over the winter, looked strong against a group of hitters that included touted infield prospects Franklin Barreto and Yairo Munoz.

Melvin in particular liked the way Puk, the No. 6 overall pick out of the University of Florida, worked his curve ball into the mix. That’s a pitch he hadn’t used since high school, but he dusted it off back in the fall instructional league with some encouragement from minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson, and he’s working to sharpen it this spring as a complement to his fastball, slider and changeup.

“It’s just nice to have another pitch that’s slower than my other three pitches,” Puk said before Tuesday’s workout.

“It’s a four-pitch mix,” Melvin said. “He’s really starting to distinguish between this slider and curve ball. It was quite a crowd around his cage too. When you’re a young kid you tend to notice that, but I thought he responded really well.”

Puk, 21, is rooming with shortstop Richie Martin, a teammate at Florida whom the A’s made their top pick in 2015. They also lived near each other in Tampa this offseason and worked out together.

Puk comes off very quiet upon meeting him, but Martin warns against being fooled.

“It takes him a while, but once he feels comfortable he’ll break out. You’ll see.”

Melvin was impressed with Puk’s physical shape, saying he’s fielded his position well in pitchers’ fielding drills.

CAMP BATTLE Jesse Hahn will start the A’s Cactus League opener Saturday against the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs. It’ll be a chance for Hahn to make an early impression in his bid for the fifth starter spot.

“After the year he had (in 2016), it’s important for him this year. We have to show some faith in him,” Melvin said. “He performed well for us the year before. Last year wasn’t really consistent. We’ll try to get him out there and get him off to a good start.”

Kendall Graveman will take the ball in Sunday’s spring home opener against the Angels. Sonny Gray and Sean Manaea both will pitch Monday against the Giants and Jharel Cotton and Andrew Triggs will be among the group throwing Tuesday against the Indians.

PROSPECT WATCH: Sean Murphy, the A’s third-round pick in June, has shown a very strong throwing arm early in camp. Is it any wonder Melvin, an ex-catcher, was impressed?

“The kid can throw, it’s special,” Melvin said. “We really like him.”

NOTEWORTHY: Still no word on when reliever Santiago Casilla will arrive at camp from the Dominican Republic. Melvin said he isn’t concerned at this stage, and noted that Casilla has been working out at the team’s complex in the Dominican Republic and gave a motivational talk to the younger players there.

Cousins thanks Sacramento: 'Wouldn't trade it for anything'

Cousins thanks Sacramento: 'Wouldn't trade it for anything'

The Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, prompting the All-Star big man to post a heartfelt message on his Instagram account.

Words can't even express how hard it is for me to have to leave the city of Sacramento and all of the amazing people that I have met while out here. I gave it my all for you and you gave it right back. The most amazing fans on the planet and I just want you to know that your support has meant everything to me. It's hard to believe that it was seven years ago that this young kid from Alabama showed up in Sacramento scared and not knowing a soul. As I look back upon my time here, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have met so many amazing people, many of whom went out of their way to make me feel right at home from day one. Each and every one of you have played such an important part in my life and helping me become the person I am today. I don't just consider you all as fans, you all are my family...and a couple thousand miles aren't going to change a thing. Thank you Sacramento. 
#LoyaltyisLove #sactownkingforever

Cousins, 26, averaged 27.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.3 blocks and 34.4 minutes per game for the Kings this year.

Words can't even express how hard it is for me to have to leave the city of Sacramento and all of the amazing people that I have met while out here. I gave it my all for you and you gave it right back. The most amazing fans on the planet and I just want you to know that your support has meant everything to me. It's hard to believe that it was seven years ago that this young kid from Alabama showed up in Sacramento scared and not knowing a soul. As I look back upon my time here, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have met so many amazing people, many of whom went out of their way to make me feel right at home from day one. Each and every one of you have played such an important part in my life and helping me become the person I am today. I don't just consider you all as fans, you all are my family...and a couple thousand miles aren't going to change a thing. Thank you Sacramento. #LoyaltyisLove

A post shared by DeMarcus Cousins (@boogiecousins) on