A's Insider notes: Jackson adjusts to hot corner


A's Insider notes: Jackson adjusts to hot corner

May 23, 2011A'S PAGE A'SVIDEOPaul Gutierrez

CoJack tested at the hot corner - He had a wry grin on his face when he said it, so he could have been joking. "I could tell you I'm super confidentbut I have to get out there," Conor Jackson said of his first career start at third base, and his fifth-ever appearance there. "I'll just go out there and be super-athletic." He merely needed to be competent. And he was more that that, actually. The Angels tested him early when Erick Aybar dropped a sacrifice bunt in front of him, and Jackson cleanly fielded it and threw him out. Jackson also deftly fielded a sharply-hit short-hop at his ankles and threw out the speedy Reggie Willits in the second. And Jackson survived a collision on the mound with first baseman Daric Barton to catch Mark Trumbo's high pop-up to end the sixth. "It's an opportunity for me," Jackson said, before the game. "I'm not going to shy away from any at-bats." For the past month, Jackson had been working with coach Mike Gallego on his fielding as the outfielder-by-trade has also played first base this season. "It's the same thing, in reverse," quipped A's manager Bob Geren. "Except, you have to throw the ball." Jackson also made two more clean plays in the ill-fated eighth, spearing hot shots from Bobby Abreu and Mark Trumbo for a pair of fielders choice outs.

Kouz improves - Jackson got the start at third because Andy LaRoche started at second, in place of Mark Ellis, who merely got the day off, and Kevin Kouzmanoff was still hindered by his right groin he strained on Saturday. "I thought it was a lot (more) serious at first," he said of the injury, which he incurred trying to beat out a ground ball at AT&T Park. "It was a relief when I woke up the next morning. That's the biggest test - how it feels the next morning." Geren said he was not "ready to use him" Monday night in the opener of the four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels, though Kouzmanoff did take batting practice and some grounders to test it out. He said he was also slowed a month ago by a similar tweak. If he's able to play Tuesday, the A's could definitely use his bat. He is 9-for-28 with three home runs in his career against Dan Haren, who is scheduled to start for the Angels. "Really?" Kouzmanoff said with a quizzical smile when I told him of his past success against Haren.Fuentes demoted? - Yes, and no. You see, it only seems as though Brian Fuentes has been the A's closer, what with his team-high nine saves. "I could use anybody," Geren said. "It's been that way, and everybody knows that." To prove his point, Geren used Fuentes in the eighth inningof a tie game. He walked Aybar, then got Bobby Abreu to hit into a fielders choice before giving way to Michael Wuertz. And oh yeah, Fuentes' man scored so he took the loss to fall to 1-7. Ouch. A day earlier, Fuentes seemed to question management's decision to use him in a non-save situation against the Giants, wondering aloud why the A's would not use fresh arms just called up. "When you're at home and it's a tie game, that's when just about every manager uses his closerthat's normal for a closer," Geren said. "When you're on the road, you don't want to do that unless you're forced to." Geren said he was limited to using either Jerry Blevins, Fautino De Los Santos or Fuentes. He chose Fuentes.
RELATED: Battle of the Bay Podcast -- Fuentes freaks
Moscoso to get the call - The move will not be made official until tomorrow, but, as expected, right-hander Guillermo Moscoso will be called up from triple-A Sacramento to start in place of the injured Tyson Ross. "He's pretty consistently throwing strikes and he's ready to go," Geren said. In eight appearances for the River Cats, including seven starts, Moscoso is 3-2 with a 4.02 ERA. He has 43 strikeouts and 13 walks, but has not gone more than six innings. A corresponding roster move will have to be made as well and the thinking is that reliever Fautino De Los Santos will be shipped back to Sacramento.Blevins DFA'd, but stays on 40-man? - To make room for Josh Outman, the A's designated for assignment Blevins, though announced the left-hander remained on the club's 40-man roster. Wait, what? According to the A's, Blevins was DFA'd "for procedural reasons. He was not optioned immediately because his optional waivers had not been secured at the time of (the) roster move." So, Blevins is expected to head to Sacramento. Got it?

Kings adamantly disagree with perplexing foul call at end of loss to Rockets

Kings adamantly disagree with perplexing foul call at end of loss to Rockets

SACRAMENTO -- Every time the Houston Rockets tried to pull away, the Sacramento Kings answered Wednesday night in the team’s home opener. It was a heavyweight contender throwing body blows at a 100-to-1 underdog riding a huge home crowd advantage.

And then the ref called the fight.

With the Kings trailing 98-95 with 26 seconds remaining, the Rockets attempted to inbounds the ball and George Hill made a play. From the video replay, it appeared that the ball tipped off the fingertips of Houston's Eric Gordon and the nearest official called Kings ball.

Hill and teammate Garrett Temple celebrated the turnover and the sold out crowd went crazy.

The play went under review and not only was the call overturned, but Hill was assessed a personal foul. Gordon went to the line and hit two freebies to give the Rockets a 100-95 lead and effectively ended Sacramento’s chances.

In the confusion of the moment, it turns out that an official on the opposite side of the court called a personal foul and the replay wasn’t to check on possession, but to determine which Kings player would be assessed a personal foul.  

The Kings can’t call shenanigans on the officials, the league has stiff penalties for that. But they seemed just as confused as everyone else in the building when asked about the call during postgame interviews.

“I could have swore that the refs pointed out of bounds, our ball, but they said they called a foul, so it is, what it is,” Hill said following the game.

Hill avoided digging himself a hole with the league and a potential fine as reporters tried to dig deeper. 

Head coach Dave Joerger gave an account of what the officials said following the call, but he too seemed perplexed by the play.

“That was a foul,” Joerger said of what the officials told him on the sidelines. “I adamantly disagreed. They said they called it at the time, which I didn’t see. So that was more my argument than whether it was a foul or not.”

Sacramento continued to compete in the final seconds, but they were forced to foul intentionally down the stretch and the Rockets were able to hold them at bay to come away with the 105-100 victory.

Report: Gordon Hayward 'unlikely to return' this season


Report: Gordon Hayward 'unlikely to return' this season

Despite the severity of Gordon Hayward's injury, there was a small bit of hope that he might be able to return this season.

It appears that won't happen.

Hayward underwent surgery Wednesday night and is "unlikely to return this season," his agent Mark Bartelstein told ESPN.

"We expect him to make a full recovery and return to his All-Star form," Bartelstein told ESPN.

The Celtics' prized offseason acquisition suffered the terrifying ankle injury just five minutes into his Boston debut on Tuesday night. He was diagnosed with a dislocated left ankle and broken tibia.

After playing in Cleveland on Tuesday, the Celtics returned to Boston for their home opener on Wednesday against the Bucks. Prior to the game, a 30-second video message from Hayward to the fans was played in the arena.

“What’s up, everybody? Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who’s had me in their thoughts and prayers,” Hayward said. “I’m going to be all right. It’s hurting me that I can’t be there for the home opener. I want nothing more than to be with my teammates and walk out on that floor tonight. But I’ll be supporting you guys from here, and wishing you the best of luck. Kill it tonight.”