McCarthy, A's hope to contain Bautista, Blue Jays


McCarthy, A's hope to contain Bautista, Blue Jays

April 5, 2011
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A's (1-2) vs.

TORONTO (AP) -- Jose Bautista may have enjoyed the best season of his career in 2010, but it hardly came at the expense of the Oakland Athletics.

Bautista is already off to a strong start in 2011 and will try to reverse his woes against the Athletics when the Toronto Blue Jays open a three-game home series Tuesday night.

The slugger had career highs of a .260 average, a major league-leading 54 homers and 124 RBIs last season. His .115 average against Oakland (1-2) was his worst against an AL opponent, and he had one homer and two RBIs in seven meetings.

NEWS: MLB scoreboard

Bautista is 5 for 11 with two solo homers this season, but he and the Blue Jays don't want to be too reliant on the long ball. Toronto (2-1) has homered six times in its two wins and once in its loss, Sunday's 4-3 defeat to Minnesota.

"We have more tools now; we have more versatile guys," Bautista told the Blue Jays' official website. "We can run and do more stuff."

One of the players added to provide speed is Rajai Davis, who has missed the last two games with a right ankle injury. Davis, though, expects to return Tuesday to face the team he spent his previous two-plus seasons with before being traded to the Blue Jays in the offseason.

Davis was third in the majors in steals with 50 for Oakland in 2010.

Merely putting the ball in play could be a good way to have success against the Athletics, who committed seven errors over the weekend in losing two of three at home to Seattle.

"Our defense has been stinking up the field and the clubhouse," center fielder Coco Crisp said.
REWIND: A's overcome defense to defeat Mariners

Oakland first baseman Daric Barton has three errors to match Toronto third baseman Edwin Encarnacion for the most in the majors.

The A's are beginning a nine-game trip. Oakland went 34-47 on the road a season ago, and knows it must improve to seriously challenge AL champion Texas in the West.

"Playing on the road is obviously more difficult than playing at home, but our guys have played together awhile now, and I think the experience they've gained will help them," manager Bob Geren told Oakland's official website. "We do need to do a better job on the road, that's for sure."

Geren will give Brandon McCarthy his first start with the A's - and first since Oct. 2, 2009. McCarthy was limited to 22 starts over the past three seasons because of shoulder problems, but earned a spot in the rotation in spring training.

"It's a pretty solid rotation I'm joining, and it's exciting to know I have to do my part to hold up my end of the bargain," McCarthy said.

The right-hander is 3-2 with a 3.95 ERA in five starts against Toronto.

RELATED: Brandon McCarthy's player page

The Blue Jays will counter with JoJo Reyes, making his AL debut. Reyes spent his previous four seasons with Atlanta, and made one appearance for the Braves last season as he spent most of it in the minors.

One of the left-hander's five career wins came against Oakland, when he gave up two runs in five innings in a 5-2 victory May 18, 2008.

Toronto won four of seven against Oakland last season.

RELATED: A's upcoming sked

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.