A's notebook: Matsui reacts to Braden's prank


A's notebook: Matsui reacts to Braden's prank

Feb. 20, 2011

PHOENIX -- Sunday was reporting day for position players at A's camp, but there weren't many position players to be found at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.That's just how Oakland manager Bob Geren had hoped it would be. Most of the team's position players have been at camp and working out daily, some arriving even before pitchers and catchers reported, so Geren "strongly suggested" to them that they stay away Sunday and rest up for Monday's first full-squad workout."I didn't tell them they couldn't come," Geren said. "But a lot of these guys have been working out every day, and I thought it would be a good idea for them to take advantage of what might be their last day off for a long time. The majority of them listened."BRADEN'S PET LIZARD
One of the handful of position players who was on hand was Hideki Matsui, and resident clubhouse clown Dallas Braden came up with a unique way to welcome him to the clubhouse.Playing off Matsui's nickname, Braden dressed a blow-up doll of Godzilla -- he said he bought it online -- in an A's jersey and cap, with a jock strap and white shoes, and had it waiting in front of the Japanese superstar's locker when he arrived."I got tired of waiting for the real Godzilla to get here, so I went out and got my own," Braden said.Matsui displayed a deft comic touch when he saw the creature, remaining silent and stoic just long enough to make everyone in on the joke wonder if they'd made a big mistake."There was a moment there," Geren said, "when we didn't know if he thought it was funny."Only then did Matsui break into a smile, allowing his deferential young new teammate to breathe again.MORE GODZILLA
Surrounded by the large crowd of Japanese media assigned to the Matsui beat, Geren said Matsui will bat fourth or fifth in the lineup, depending on who bats second and third.It's more likely to be fifth, because the second and third spots are almost sure to be occupied by Daric Barton and David DeJesus, though not necessarily in that order. The order doesn't much matter because Barton and DeJesus are left-handed hitters, as is Matsui, and Geren is a big fan of going left-right-left in the order as much as possible.Josh Willingham, a right-handed hitter, might have the best pure power on the team anyway, so he's a natural fit at cleanup.Matsui was signed to be Oakand's full-time DH, but on Saturday he said he hoped to play in the outfield some this spring, and Geren likes the idea of Matsui keeping his defensive skills from rusting up entirely. Matsui has appeared in 18 games as an outfielder since the end of the 2008 season.FINISH WITH A FLOURISH
The A's timed their workout perfectly, with the last pitch of the last scheduled bullpen session being delivered about 10 seconds before the darkish sky finally delivered on its morning-long threat.The pitcher who wrapped things up was right-hander Fautino De Los Santos, a tantalizingly talented 25-year-old who has a fastball that's been clocked in triple digits."Gasolina," Geren said to bench coach Joel Skinner as they watched De Los Santos unleash a series of punishing fastballs.Acquired in the trade that sent Nick Swisher to the White Sox before the 2008 season, De Los Santos is a converted starter who hasn't played above Double-A ball, but as soon as he shows he can harness his electric stuff and dramatically improve upon his 2010 average of 4.5 walks per nine innings, he'll be on the fast track for a job in the big-league bullpen.

After loss to Nuggets, it's clear Kings need to fix problem on the glass

After loss to Nuggets, it's clear Kings need to fix problem on the glass

SACRAMENTO -- Light in the rear. It’s a term the Sacramento Kings coaching staff has used since the beginning of training camp to describe the bigs on the roster. On Monday night at Golden 1 Center, the team’s lack of strength inside was on full display as the Denver Nuggets crushed them on the glass.

“I think we’re 29th in the league for rebounding, so that’s a little bit of our makeup of how our team is made,” Dave Joerger said following the Kings’ 114-98 loss.

Joerger is close in his assessment, but off by a few spots. His roster ranks 26th in the league in rebounding overall and 28th on the defensive side of the ball. It’s become an achilles heel for a team that has a few glaring weaknesses.

“When Willie (Cauley-Stein) and Kosta (Koufos) aren’t in there to snag every rebound, we have to get in there and help Zach (Randolph) and help Skal (Labissiere),” veteran Garrett Temple said. “Skal’s a little undersized in terms of weight and Z-Bo will put his body on people, but some people might be able to out jump him.”

On a normal night, Temple is right. Randolph and Labissiere struggle to put up big numbers on the glass. But against the Nuggets, it was Koufos and Cauley-Stein that combined to grab nine rebounds in 51 total minutes of action.

Randolph and Labissiere didn’t fair much better, finishing with 10 boards between the two of them in 38 minutes with the starters. Between the Kings’ four bigs, they were out rebounded by the Nuggets bigs by a final of 34-19.

The Nuggets came into the night a top 10 rebounding team overall and the second best offensive rebounding team in the NBA at 11.8 per game.

It’s not just the bigs that struggled to grab boards for Sacramento. Without Buddy Hield, the club’s best rebounding wing, the Kings’ were dominated 49-34 overall in rebounding, including 14-5 on the offensive glass.

“The first shot, it’s a good contest, we did everything right, except get the rebound,” rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox said. “And then they get an open shot off a second chance shot. If we can complete a lot of plays with the rebound, we’ll be okay.”

To Fox’s point, the defensive possession doesn’t end until the rebound is secured. Sacramento was outscored 19-6 on second chance points. In a 16-point game, those numbers loom large.

“Us guards, we know we have to help our bigs,” Fox said. “We know our bigs are athletic. We know they do what they do, at the end of the day, other team’s guards are helping their bigs rebound and their bigs aren’t alone.”

Outside of the four bigs, none of the other seven players to see action had more than three rebounds. It’s an issue that has to be addressed as the Kings move forward.

“There are some instances that really bothered me,” Joerger said. “We had some guys leaking out, standing at half court and that I won’t have.”

The Kings have a day of practice on Tuesday to try and sure up some of their issues. Some of the problems stem from inexperience, but some of the issue comes down to energy and effort.

It doesn’t even get easier on Wednesday. The Los Angeles Lakers rank second in the league in rebounding at 47.5 boards per game. On the plus side, they also give up the 28th most rebounds in the league.

Klay Thompson randomly interviewed on local NYC news about scaffolding


Klay Thompson randomly interviewed on local NYC news about scaffolding

With a big break until their next game, the Warriors spent a couple days in New York City.

Klay Thompson spent part of his Monday walking around the city.

And as only Thompson could, he wound up appearing on a local news report. But he wasn't talking about basketball. Not even close.

Courtesy of Twitter user @MP_Trey, Thompson was interviewed on Fox 5 NY to talk about ... scaffolding.

"I usually observe if the piping and stuff is new. Sometimes, you know, something looks like it's been there a while, I try to avoid that," Thompson said in the report.

You can watch the odd video here: