Lincecum fans seven White Sox in Giants' 5-3 win


Lincecum fans seven White Sox in Giants' 5-3 win

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) That extra month of work at the end of last season helped Tim Lincecum stay in shape and keep his work ethic intact through a shorter winter - and it's already showing.The San Francisco Giants' ace struck out seven batters over 5 1-3 innings Wednesday to help the reigning World Series champions beat the Chicago White Sox 5-3.Lincecum allowed one run on three hits and walked three batters. He was pulled in the sixth by manager Bruce Bochy after surrendering a one-out walk to Alex Rios."I was hitting spots better than I had in past years, so that's a positive I can take away from this," he said. "Knowing that I only had three months to get back into shape in the offseason presses you to want to come out and repeat and do as well as you did last year."The only trouble Lincecum found was in the second inning, when he gave up a leadoff single to Paul Konerko, followed by an RBI-triple off the bat of Rios. Still, with a runner on third and nobody out, Lincecum retired the next three batters without letting Rios score."The key to me is to get in a good tempo, good rhythm from beginning to end," Lincecum said. "I haven't felt this good all spring, or in any year for that matter."Lincecum earned the win thanks to ample support from his offense, but the production came from an unexpected source, the bottom of the San Francisco lineup.The six through nine hitters in the Giants' lineup accounted for 10 of the team's 15 hits and drove in all five runs.Brandon Belt led the charge with three hits and three runs scored. He hit a solo home run in the sixth and doubled in another run in the seventh. Nate Schierholtz added three singles and an RBI for the Giants.Mark Buehrle showed vast improvement from his two previous starts for Chicago. He scattered seven hits in five innings, allowing just one run while striking out three. He had allowed eight runs in his last six innings pitched."It's a positive thing for him," manager Ozzie Guillen said of his Opening-Day starter. "He needed an outing like this in spring training before we break camp."Brent Lillibridge hit a two-run homer in the seventh for the White Sox, who went hitless in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position.Notes: Buehrle picked Belt off of first base in the second inning, his first pickoff of the spring. ... The announced attendance of 10,074 was the third-highest of the spring at Camelback Ranch. "They weren't here to see Mark Buehrle and the White Sox," Guillen joked. ... Lincecum said he weighs 168 pounds, up about 11 pounds from when he reported to camp.

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


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'


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.