Raiders

Crisp's slam leads A's outburst in win over Cubs

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Crisp's slam leads A's outburst in win over Cubs

Feb. 27, 2011BOXSCORE A'SVIDEOMLBPAGE MLBSCOREBOARD
MESA, Ariz. (AP) Carlos Zambrano threw free and easy in his spring training debut, working two innings in the Chicago Cubs' 15-7 exhibition loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.It may be a sign for the fiery right-hander of things to come in 2011 after a difficult 2010 when he was pulled from the rotation and suspended from the team in June after a scuffle with former teammate Derek Lee.Despite the difficult start - demoted to the bullpen after four starts - and being placed on the restricted list while going through anger management, Zambrano salvaged the season by finishing on a tear, going 8-0 with a 1.40 ERA over his last 11 starts."Year after year you learn from experience and the things that you do in the past," Zambrano said about the pitching learning curve, but it could be applied to life as well. "That's what I do."That's what the Cubs are hoping for as they lean on the 29-year-old Venezuelan to help anchor the rotation that has too much talent to finish fifth in the NL Central again."After three or four outings and I will be good," Zambrano said. "Today I threw a lot of strikes. I was a little too rushed with (designated hitter Kurt) Suzuki but I was able to get the ground ball for the double play."Cubs manager Mike Quade saw exactly what he wanted from Zambrano."It's fun to watch him," he said. "After such a good first inning, he wavered a little and came back to right the ship. I don't know what his velocities were, but he was throwing well, which is not surprising because when he gets the adrenaline going, look out."It wasn't as smooth of a debut for Chicago's big offseason acquisition as right-hander Matt Garza, who came over in a trade from Tampa Bay, struggled throwing strictly fastballs and change-ups.He allowed five earned runs on five hits in his two innings, including a grand slam to Coco Crisp on a change-up, but Garza was more concerned with his hit."I didn't want to strike out and look foolish," said Garza. "It was a good jumping off point. I never had a hit ever. It was cool. All of the guys were laughing and joked about it, but today my job was to get outs. I got six of them but not the way I want to go about it."Garza gave up another run after a leadoff double by right-fielder Matt Carson. He took the loss in the spring training opener for both teams after allowing six base runners in his two innings.The Cubs' offense started well to get a 4-0 lead off Oakland starter Trevor Cahill as six of the first seven batters reached, including a two-run double by Alfonso Soriano, who had three hits. Starlin Castro and Marlon Byrd each went 2 for 3 to add to the 16-hit attack.The early lead was erased by Crisp's grand slam and then three errors, two by right-fielder Tyler Colvin, and ineffective pitching (Oakland had 18 hits) made it a rough start to the spring schedule."Day one I am not going to be so critical about all of this," Quade said. "We will identify the mistakes, work on them and move on."And the hope is Zambrano has done the same.Notes: Quade said that Colvin, who has been getting time at first base to become more versatile, will get a shot at in the infield at some time during the opening week of spring games, possibly Thursday against Texas. ... RHP Randy Wells gets the start Monday against Milwaukee and Ryan Dempster, the Opening Day starter, gets the ball at San Francisco on Tuesday. ... Several of the Cubs players attended a surprise party Saturday night for former Cubs reliever Bobby Howry, who retired after 13 seasons and pitched for five other teams, including the White Sox. ... The A's agreed to terms with all 21 pre-arbitration players on their 40-man roster on one-year contracts for the 2011 season. The list includes RHP Andrew Bailey, 1B Daric Barton, LHP Jerry Blevins, RHP Trevor Cahill, IF Adrian Cardenas, OF Chris Carter, LHP Bobby Cramer, RHP Fautino De Los Santos, C Josh Donaldson, IF Sean Doolittle, LHP Pedro Figueroa, LHP Gio Gonzalez, RHP Trystan Magnuson, RHP Guillermo Moscoso, LHP Josh Outman, SS Cliff Pennington, C Landon Powell, IF Adam Rosales, RHP Tyson Ross, IF Eric Sogard and OF Michael Taylor.

How John Pagano plans to impact Raiders defense: ‘There is always room for change’

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USATSI

How John Pagano plans to impact Raiders defense: ‘There is always room for change’

ALAMEDA – John Pagano can’t implement his scheme in a week. He can’t import his plays and preferences cultivated during five seasons as Chargers defensive coordinator. Full offseason programs and training camps are required for that.

Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. was fired on Tuesday. Pagano will call his first Raiders game five days later against Denver at Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders’ assistant head coach – defense believes he can impact how the Silver and Black does business.

“There’s always room for change and there’s always room for doing things better,” Pagano said Thursday. “Without telling you our game plan, it’s about how we go out and execute the call, bottom line.”

Head coach Jack Del Rio said the Raiders weren’t playing fast enough. They weren’t creating enough turnovers, weren’t doing well enough on third down and weren’t regularly affecting the quarterback due to a lack of both rush and coverage.

That’s why Norton had to go.

Pagano’s first objective, which must get accomplished in a few days, is getting the Raiders to play with confidence. Then he can add some design wrinkles with some of his personality.

“You have to have that ability of going out there, knowing your assignment and playing faster,” Pagano said. “It’s not to say that there have been times where we’ve simplified things, but taking the thinking out of the game and making them react is, I think, most important. Going out there and playing fast and that’s doing the little extra things, the attention to details of studying and getting those things processed. See ball, go get ball.”

That last sentence sums up how Pagano wants his guys to play. He’s a quality play caller and creative blitzer with a knack making simple plays look complex. He can find and exploit opposing weak links. His defenses have always been good creating pressure and turnovers alike. The Raiders need more of both.

To do that Pagano wants to relieve a player’s mental burden and keep them focused on using talent well.

“The one thing I’ve always stressed and always been about is technique, fundamentals and unbelievable effort,” Pagano said. “I think those three things can get you home.”

The Raiders haven’t been home much as a defense. They’re tied for last with 14 sacks. They’re dead last with six turnovers. They’ve gone 10 games without an interception, the longest single-season drought in NFL history.

A lack of big defensive plays has killed the Raiders this season. It obviously increases points allowed. Good field position has been hard to come by. The offense has to earn everything the hard way. That’s a recipe for losing football, a maddening turn after the Raiders finished second with 30 takeaways last year.

Pagano has a chart listing “MOPs,” short for missed opportunities. There have been many, especially in a secondary he oversaw before this week.

“I talked to these guys this week about we need to do simple better,” Pagano said. “What is simple? It’s fundamentals of covering. It’s tackling. It’s communicating. It’s catching the ball when it comes. We’ve had opportunities. It’s not like we’re out there struggling and straining to dive and layout for the thing. It’s hit us in the hands where we’ve had many, many opportunities.”

Missed opportunities have also plagued a pass rush featuring reigning defensive player of the year Khalil Mack. Pagano brought up a moment early in Sunday’s lost to New England, when Treyvon Hester forced a fumble near three teammates that the Patriots somehow recovered.

Pagano’s goal is to improve performance. Players must buy in to do that. Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin headline a large group close to Norton, one with enough pride and professionalism to get behind a new playcaller in Pagano, who could be here long term.

“There is a human element to this,” Pagano said. “We are family. It’s sad any time a member of your family gets dismissed or something. At the end of the day, we have the Broncos coming in here on Sunday and we have to get our minds right to go play this game. That’s something that they’ve done a great job with this week, truly focusing in on what we need to do.”

Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'

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AP

Jordan Bell: Rookie year with Warriors 'like being a freshman all over again'

Warriors rookie Jordan Bell made an instant impact for the team this season. But as of late, his playing time has dwindled. In four of the Warriors' last five games, Bell has been inactive. 

“It's just the life of a rookie,” Bell said to The Athletic. “That's what Steve Kerr always tells me. It's not because I'm playing bad. Just gotta be professional about it and stay ready. It's like being a freshman all over again.”

While Bell wants to be on the court with his teammates, what he appreciates most from Steve Kerr is his communication. Kerr is always honest about when he won't play Bell and he keeps the former Oregon Duck encouraged. 

“He talks to me about it every time he sees me,” Bell said. “Lets me know I'm not going to be active. Keep doing what you're doing, you're doing good. But it still f------ sucks. You're playing well and it doesn't mean anything because you're younger. It sucks, but you got to be professional about it.”

Bell has played in 12 of the Warriors' 18 games this season. The 22-year-old is averaging 3.2 points and 2.2 rebounds per game over 8.3 minutes per game. 

The Warriors bought the 38th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft from the Chicago Bulls and selected Bell. On Friday night, the Warriors, and perhaps Bell, play the Bulls for the first time this season.