Gutierrez: A's snap skid, but tension lingers


Gutierrez: A's snap skid, but tension lingers


ANAHEIM - It was a most surreal scene.Numerous A's players, practically the entire team, seated in the chairs and couches in the middle of the visitors clubhouse at Angel Stadium, transfixed with the story unfolding on the television. MLB Network analysts were breaking down the CSN California video of Brian Fuentes' pointed criticism of manager Bob Geren from the night before.Fuentes, meanwhile, sat at his locker, sneaking a few peeks when he wasn't fiddling with his smartphone.No one said a word. No one, really, seemed to be breathing, when first Al Leiter, then Mitch Williams ripped into Fuentes for taking his public beef with Geren onto the public stage.

Trying to ease the tension, an A's player lobbed a few choice F-bombs at the TV in general, at Williams in particular. To no avail. The clubhouse remained subdued.RECAP: DeJesus powers A's to 6-1 win over Haren, Halos
Some seven hours later, though, the clubhouse rivaled neighboring Disneyland as the Happiest Place on Earth."It's not going to divide anybody; it's not going to hurt anybody's feelings," said outfielder David DeJesus. "We've just got to go out there and play and win games and when you win games, everything is brushed to the side."Amazing what a relative offensive explosion, lights-out starting pitching and a 6-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels to end a season-high six-game losing streak can do to cover the warts. Even if the roots are still there. And noticeable.Because be sure, while both Fuentes and Geren on Tuesday attempted to downplay what he said Monday night in questioning his managerial skills and saying he and teammates had no communication with him, there is still tension.How could there not be? Especially since there are more than a handful in the A's clubhouse who believe, to borrow a classic line, what we have here is a failure to communicate. Still.GUTIERREZ: DeJesus muscles up
One clubhouse source said Fuentes sounding off was merely a veteran player blowing off some much-needed steam on a personal, player-to-manager level. Yet another said Fuentes, a relative newbie in these parts who signed a two-year, 10.5-million free-agent deal in January, essentially took the bullet for many of the longer-tenured players by saying what they have long felt.Who's right? Probably both parties.Geren took umbrage with the assertion he doesn't interact, even as he admitted Fuentes may have had a point in his specific situation."Fair to say that," Geren said, "but also, communication's a two-way street."Fuentes said the two had a chance meeting in a hallway at the team hotel. Geren said he called Fuentes into his office at the ballpark to talk.In any event, they met to clear the air on a day when legendary A's Hall of Fame closer Dennis Eckersley took Fuentes to the woodshed on The Monty Show on Sports Radio 95.7 FM, yes, the A's new flagship station."You can't say what he said. Period," Eckersley said. "He's been in the big leagues too long to act like that. Makes a ton of money and he's not the greatest closer in the universe. So zip it."REWIND: A's Fuentes sounds off on Geren
In his favor, Fuentes has performed well when used in a specific role. In save situations, the left-hander is 1-1 with nine saves and a 2.92 ERA. In his other 12 appearances, the left-hander is 0-6 with an ERA of 8.00. Used in tie-games in his last four outings, Fuentes has given it up in all of them and, at 1-7, he is the first relief pitcher to have lost seven games before June 1 since Gene Garber in 1979.Not that Eckersley was buying any of it, though."If you fail, you don't throw the manager under the bus," he said. "You just don't. Frustration is one thing but to me, that's a weak excuse; if you're acting like you're the man, and you've got to tell me, when is Fuentes the man?"If that was (Tony) LaRussa, are you kidding me? He'd chop my head off. I would make a formal apology."Fuentes offered no such mea culpa. Instead, he said he "felt better about it" after his skull session with Geren. As did the manager."It went well," Geren said. "Yeah, talked to Brian and gave him my thoughts, he told me his thoughts. Walked out. Everything's good. Shook hands, everything's fine."Even as Fuentes was demoted from closer and Grant Balfour will assume the role until Andrew Bailey returns from rehabbing the strained forearm that felled him in spring training, possibly within the next week. And yet, Balfour told reporters before the game he had not been informed of his new job description.But I digress.Geren said he did not even think of calling a team meeting to diffuse any clubhouse friction, real or imagined."No, I think that was something for Brian and I to straighten out," he said. "Don't think it was necessary to bring anyone else into it."And yet, the players are involved. And will remain so as long as there is even a hint of someone feeling slighted by a lack of communication."Everybody respects Brian a lot and he's a good teammate," said Mark Ellis, the longest-tenured A's player. "Today, he probably wishes he didn't say it in the press. But they've talked so it's done."Everybody respects Brian."Then what about the manager?"We respect the manager," Ellis answered. "Our job is to respect the manager."As well as say the politically correct things, right?"We stand behind both Bob and Tito," DeJesus said, referring to Fuentes' nickname. "But Tito because he's one of us. He goes through the grind every day and we're backing him, we're behind him and we felt like that gave us the motivation to go out there and just play loose and it showed up in the game today."Ah, yes. Winning, the ultimate deodorant. That and communication.

Shanahan showed patience with Beathard; Will now have to show more

Shanahan showed patience with Beathard; Will now have to show more

Kyle Shanahan is, self admittedly, not a patient person. As he watched quarterback C.J. Beathard run the scout team over the last couple of weeks -- how he visualized an unfamiliar play, went through his progressions and handled the defensive coverages -- the head coach saw rapid improvement every day. But he suppressed any urge to play the rookie before he was ready.

“I tried to wait for the right time for him and the right time for the team,” Shanahan explained.

Down 14-0 to Washington halfway through the second quarter with starter Brian Hoyer struggling, Shanahan knew Beathard’s time had come.

“I felt the team needed it right then,” Shanahan said. “It also made me more confident to do it because I thought he was ready for it, also.”

Moments after the game was over, Shanahan named Beathard the starter. Watching the game tape on the flight home only bolstered his decision.

“By no means was he perfect, missed a couple of things, but that always happens,” Shanahan said. “I thought he came in there, didn’t hesitate, competed. The moment was not too big for him. Made a few plays in rhythm, made a few off schedule plays and was a big reason we got back in that game.”

Beathard led the 49ers on two scoring drives and finished 19-of-36 with 245 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception, though it came on fourth-and-20 on his final pass attempt of the game. On his 45-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson, Beathard extended the play when the fifth year receiver wasn’t where he expected him to be.

“He was supposed to go to the post for a certain coverage, and they had a busted coverage, so he just hung out there which is why C.J. didn’t see it right away,” Shanahan explained. “We had enough protection where he could take a couple more hitches. He drove the pocket and saw where Aldrick was, and he didn’t hesitate. Made that throw with that arm strength.”

Shanahan smirked at his not-so-subtle dig at those who questioned Beathard’s arm strength during the draft process. He sees a quarterback who can make all the throws, and make them from the pocket, and scramble when he needs to. All he needs now, Shanahan contends, is experience.

“It’s about playing in the game and reacting to defenses, reacting to coverages, reacting to adjustments. He’s going to see a lot of things he hasn’t seen before, and that will change each week. It will probably change each quarter.”

Helping Beathard continue to grow through those experiences will require patience, but in this situation, it’s the kind the head coach can handle.

“You’re never going to get a quick answer. You see over time, but he’s got the ability to do it. He’s got the mental toughness to do it. I think he will get better the more he plays.”

Kings look to get healthy with opener just days away


Kings look to get healthy with opener just days away

SACRAMENTO - All hands on deck. The Sacramento Kings open the 2017-18 schedule Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets at Golden 1 Center and it looks like they might do so with a full arsenal of players at their disposal.

Point guard De’Aaron Fox returned to practice on Sunday and then participated in the team’s annual Fanfest. If his dance moves are any indication, the 19-year-old’s back is feeling just fine.

Veteran George Hill tweaked his groin Friday against the Golden State Warriors, leaving his availability for opening night in question. Hill, 31, who has a history of groin injuries, was on the court Monday practicing and said he is ready to play.

“Everything is feeling good right now,” Hill said Monday following practice.

The only player who didn’t practice on Monday is rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic, who sprained his right ankle against the Warriors. According to head coach Dave Joerger,  the team is hopeful that the Serbian sharpshooter will return in time for Game 1.

“We’re still shooting for Wednesday for both of them,” Joerger said of Hill and Bogdanovic.

New look Rockets

The Rockets went 55-27 last season under head coach Mike D’Antoni, but that didn’t stop them from going all in during the offseason. With MVP runner-up James Harden already manning the backcourt, Houston added nine-time All-Star Chris Paul as their new starting point guard.

“Leadership, he’s a floor general,” Hill said about Paul. “Anywhere he goes, he’ll make a team better. We know they were already a good team without him, coming in with him is going to be a bigger task.”

It’s a new look roster and the expectations are huge for the Rockets. Houston averaged 115.3 points per game last season and led the league in both 3-point attempts and makes. This season, they also added two strong perimeter defenders in P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute.

It’s a huge test coming out of the gate for Sacramento. Following the contest against the Rockets, the Kings hit the road for three straight before returning to Golden 1 next Thursday to face DeMarcus Cousins and the New Orleans Pelicans.

Camp notes

With the season just around the corner, the Sacramento Kings made their final roster cuts on Sunday afternoon. David Stockton, Matt Jones and Reggie Hearn were waived, leaving the Kings with 15 rostered players and two two-way players in Jack Cooley and JaKarr Sampson.

Stockton, Jones and Hearn are all expected to join the Reno Bighorns of the NBA’s G-League.