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Rain threatening Giants and Cubs afternoon affair

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Rain threatening Giants and Cubs afternoon affair

May 14, 2011GIANTS (21-17) vs.
CHICAGO CUBS (17-20)
4:10 p.m.GAME LINEUPS
(AP) -- High-scoring games from the Chicago Cubs have been an infrequent occurrence. Those few times when their offense does break out, they usually follow with a dud.Coming off an impressive showing in their series opener against the San Francisco Giants, the inconsistent Cubs hope for another big day at the plate in a rare Saturday night game at Wrigley Field.Chicago (17-20) won 11-4 on Friday, snapping the Giants' six-game winning streak. The top three hitters in the Cubs' batting order - Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney and Marlon Byrd - went 8 for 14 with five RBIs and five runs.
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It was the second win in five games for the Cubs, who have 22 runs and 31 hits in those victories. They've managed five runs while leaving 29 runners on base in the defeats."We really got to focus on what we've been working on in batting practice," said Reed Johnson, who went 3 for 5 with four RBIs Friday, "and just carry that over into the game."Building on that result, though, might not be that easy.The Cubs have scored seven or more runs six times, winning all of those contests. They followed each of those first five games with a loss, combining for nine runs.
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Chicago hopes for better luck Saturday against Ryan Vogelsong (2-0, 3.05 ERA), who will be making his fourth start.Vogelsong was perfect through five and allowed one hit and one walk over 6 1-3 innings of a 3-0 win against Colorado on Sunday."That's the best experience I've ever had in baseball," the right-hander told the Giants' official website.Vogelsong, who played in Japan from 2007-09, is 1-4 with a 7.59 ERA against the Cubs. He hasn't faced them since throwing an inning of relief for Pittsburgh in April 2006.It has been considerably longer since the last time the Cubs played under the lights of Wrigley Field on a Saturday.Because of parking restrictions in the neighborhood, the Cubs may only play on Friday and Saturday nights if it is part of a national television broadcast. This is the first Saturday night game at Wrigley since Aug. 31, 2002.San Francisco (21-17) is also struggling offensively.The Giants have scored four runs or fewer in nine straight and 13 of 14 games. They've usually received enough pitching, however, as Friday's defeat was just their second in 10 contests.One bright spot in San Francisco's offense is Andres Torres, who had three hits and scored twice Friday.Torres is hitting .467 in four games after missing a month with a strained Achilles' tendon. The leadoff hitter is batting .421 in five games against the Cubs since the start of last season, and he's 3 for 7 with a pair of triples against scheduled starter Doug Davis.Davis will be making his first start after being promoted from Triple-A Iowa. The veteran left-hander went 1-4 with a 7.51 ERA in eight starts for Milwaukee last season.One year ago from Sunday, Davis was diagnosed with pericarditis, an inflammation of the lining surrounding the heart. He made one more start in July before being shut down the rest of the season with elbow problems."It's exciting for him to be back in the game, and I think he's ready to go," manager Mike Quade told the Cubs' official website.This will be Davis' first start versus the Giants since 2009, and he is 5-8 with a 4.72 ERA against them.

Curry takes 'unpopular position' on All-Star draft, has picked assistant GMs

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Curry takes 'unpopular position' on All-Star draft, has picked assistant GMs

Steph Curry will be one of the leading players in the NBA's new experiment with the All-Star Game.

Curry and LeBron James will pick the teams from the pool of available All-Stars. Conferences are no more, giving the game a completely different look.

"It's the first time it's happened in the league, so you really don't know what to expect or how it's going to unfold, and just specifically, what it will look like on the floor with mixmatched rosters. LeBron has been an All-Star, what 14 straight years? And he's been with Eastern Conference guys every year, so to see him have to pick some Western Conference guys and vica versa, us in the West, you have the staple guys that are there every year. So to switch it up, I think it's going to be a fun look on the floor. Might take some getting used to, but the actual draft part of it will be cool<' Curry said to reporters after shootaround in Houston on Saturday.

LeBron has the first pick since he received more total votes than Curry. So that sets up the dynamic that LeBron picks Warriors forward Kevin Durant.

"That's a possibility. I'm putting together an assistant GM staff that can help me get my draft board and all that stuff and know how to respond if he picks a certain way. Get the algorythm going," Curry said.

Curry's assistant GM staff will consist of his father Dell and brother Seth.

"I may have to ask Riley and see what she thinks," Curry joked.

All-Star reserves will be announced on Tuesday, Jan. 23 and it's possible Draymond Green and Klay Thompson could be among the players Curry can select. Does he feel an obligation to pick them if they are available?

"I don't feel obligated. I would want to. To have the opportunity to play with them on the All-Star Game court, that's what it's all about, kind of embracing that moment, so we'll see how it goes," Curry said.

The big debate surrounding the new All-Star Game format is whether or not the draft should be televised or the results made public. As of right now, the NBA has no plans to show the draft on TV or reveals the order in which players were drafted.

"We've had a lot of dicsussions around that. There's a lot of people in favor of watching it live. There's also a lot of people that understand the reasoning why it's not this year. I'm sure as the new format unfolds year after year, it'll happen. But it won't be this first time," Curry said.

So which way does Curry lean in the debate?

"I've always been a proponent of protecting the players. I know that's kind of the unpopular position. I know we're all grown men, we can all handle it, We're all All-Stars, but we want to see how the new format the first time so it's presented in the right light," Curry said.

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr doesn't believe players should worry about where they get drafted.

"No shame in being the last All-Star picked. You're still an All-Star," Kerr said after shootaround.

The All-Star teams will be revealed on Thursday, Jan. 25 and game will take play Sunday, Feb. 18 in Los Angeles.

New Raiders DC explains what attracted him to joining Jon Gruden

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AP

New Raiders DC explains what attracted him to joining Jon Gruden

Paul Guenther and Jay Gruden are great friends. The bond formed in Cincinnati, when both guys were Bengals assistants.

Jay Gruden moved on to Washington, and has been that club’s head coach since 2014. Last year, Jay Gruden tried to bring Guenther with him. The Bengals, however, wouldn’t let Guenther out of his contract.

It expired this month, allowing Jay’s brother Jon Gruden to purchase this hot commodity. The Bengals tried to keep him with a lucrative contract offer, but Guenther’s mind was made. He took the job as Gruden’s defensive coordinator, and the four-year contract that came with it. This is about more than money. Jon Gruden presented a unique opportunity worthy of Guenther moving on after 15 years in Cincinnati.

“I’ve known Jon for a long time,” Guenther said this week in a conference call. “Just the ability to come with him and start something fresh from the ground up really excited me. I’ve been in Cincinnati for a long time. My kids were basically raised there. I know a lot of the players. But to have this opportunity with Jon coming to the Raiders and the brand of the Raiders really attracted me. Overall, just an opportunity to come coach with him, see him do it, see how he runs this organization, this team, would be a great thing for me to learn from.”

The Guenther hire was important. He’ll be installing a new system and will have considerable clout running the defense with Gruden focused on the process of scoring points.

Guenther’s defense was built in Cincinnati, with current Minnesota head coach and former Bengals DC Mike Zimmer also contributing to the scheme. He runs a 4-3 defensive front with single-gap responsibilities. What you’ll see from Minnesota in the NFC championship will look a lot like the Silver and Black scheme next season.

“Structurally they’re very, very similar,” Guenther said. “I would say 80, 90 percent of the defense, the calls, the fronts, the coverages, the terminology is all about the same. I spent a long time with Mike. Really, when he came over from Dallas and Atlanta to Cincinnati, he had the system that was probably 60 percent intact and then we kind of built up to where we are today. Certainly, I have my own little things that I added to the defense as I went along. He’s added things. We’re always talking in the offseason, just because we’re close friends, about the things that he’s doing, things that I’m doing. I would say it’s very similar.”

The Bengals didn’t blltz much under Guenther, especially last season. He isn’t averse to bringing extra guys. He just didn’t need to dial up those plays with the Bengals pressuring the passer without extra help.

“It all depends on how many we can get home with four (pass rushers),” Guenther said. “I think the thing you really have to look at is the amount of pressure you’re getting on a quarterback. If you don’t have to blitz and you can get home with four guys.

“…I love blitzing, I got every blitz in the book up on my board here. We got it all – double A’s, overloads – any blitz you can imagine, we have it. That was what my role was with Mike Zimmer (when he was Bengals DC) coming up with the third-down blitzes. I’m certainly all for it, but I think from a team perspective, and you’ve got to really see how the game is going.”

Guenther inherits a defensive depth chart with some star power, young talent and holes aplenty. The Raiders have some issues at linebacker, safety, defensive tackle and cornerback. Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin are solid off the edge, but the unit needs a talent infusion. There’s roster flexibility, with high-priced veterans easily cut if Guenther and Gruden so choose.

“I believe there’s a lot of good players here, a lot of good, young players,” he said. “You’ve got to get them out and develop them and get them to understand your system. But I think there’s a lot of good pieces here for a foundation for sure. Obviously, every year, whether you’re the number one defense in the league or the number 32 defense in the league, you’re always looking to add pieces and fill out your lineup card. That’s what we’re going to be working through this spring and through the draft and through free agency as well as developing the young players that we have here. This day and age in the NFL when you draft guys and you think they’re worthy, you have to get them out on the field. You can’t sit on these guys for a couple of years because before you know it, their rookie contracts are over and they’re out the door. I certainly think there’s some good, young prospects here that I’m eager to work with.”