Zito looks sharper in Giants' win over Dodgers


Zito looks sharper in Giants' win over Dodgers

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Barry Zito has heard the doubters who question whether he can still pitch. Heck, he even thinks he's got something to prove to himself.The left-hander took a step toward answering some of the questions by striking out two in three innings as a split squad of San Francisco Giants defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 on Friday night."I definitely have work to do, but I'm encouraged," Zito said. "I want to prove that I have what it takes to be productive."He gave up one earned run on two hits and walked one in his second spring start, two days after manager Bruce Bochy confirmed Zito remains the team's No. 4 starter."There's been some talk and things like that around camp. I don't know how much of that is based in truth, but at the end of the day this is the major leagues and you got to prove yourself every year," Zito said. "I've proven that I have good stuff in me, but it's a matter of making that happen on the field. I'm taking this very seriously."Thomas Neal and Buster Posey homered for the Giants, who earned their Cactus League-leading sixth victory on a 75-degree night at Camelback Ranch, where 11,261 fans poured in to see the World Series champions take on their California rivals.The Giants open the season at Dodger Stadium on March 31.Zito had a better outing than he did Monday against Milwaukee, when he allowed two earned runs on three hits, walked five and struck out two."I just want to stay in the moment when I'm out in the game," he said. "A lot of the times when I got off track last year, I was looking with too broad a lens instead of just pitch to pitch."Bochy said he thought Zito was better in the third inning."In the first two innings, he was out of sync," he said. "In that third inning, he slowed things down and had a better rhythm going, so he finished up on a good note, which is good news."Zito is 40-57 with a 4.45 ERA in his first four years with the Giants after signing a 126 million, seven-year contract before the 2007 season. He was left off the postseason roster for all three rounds last year as the Giants won their first World Series title since 1954."I don't think he quite gets the credit that he deserves. Wins and losses are things he can't control," Bochy said. "We've had a tough time getting him runs. He makes every start and gives us everything he's got, and that's all we can ask."Right-hander Jon Garland made his spring debut for the Dodgers after signing with them as a free agent. He allowed one run and one hit in three innings, struck out two and walked none. Garland will be the team's No. 5 starter after spending last season in San Diego."Very nice," first-year Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "He made it look pretty easy. He threw the ball pretty good."Garland hit Giants right fielder Cody Ross on the left wrist in the second. Zito struck designated hitter Marcus Thames on the right hand in the bottom of the inning.Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton walked one in one inning in his second spring appearance.Neal's first homer of the spring on the first pitch from Matt Guerrier landed in the Dodgers' bullpen in left field, giving the Giants a 2-1 lead in the fifth. Posey followed with his second homer on a 3-2 pitch from Ron Mahay in the sixth.San Francisco extended its lead to 5-1 in the seventh when Mike Fontenot lined a two-run, two-out single to left field off Travis Schlicting.The Giants led 1-0 in the second when Ross scored on Travis Ishikawa's soft fly to center field and Matt Kemp's throwing error.Zito walked Jamie Hoffman to load the bases in the second. Ivan DeJesus Jr. grounded into a double play, with Thames scoring on a fielder's choice to tie the game.Giants center fielder Andres Torres, out of the starting lineup since last weekend because of a sore left oblique, returned as the leadoff hitter and was 1 for 3 with a strikeout in five innings.Notes: The Dodgers made their first cut of the spring, reassigning LHP Dana Eveland to minor league camp. He didn't pitch an inning because of a strained left hamstring sustained in the first day of drills. ... Giants backup C Eli Whiteside, bothered by right elbow inflammation, threw long toss on Friday and could play in a game next week. ... It was San Francisco's second game of the day, with a split squad having beaten Milwaukee 7-2 in Scottsdale. ... The Giants beat the Dodgers 8-3 last weekend, and the teams meet twice more this spring.

Joerger shakes things up, Cauley-Stein responds with big game


Joerger shakes things up, Cauley-Stein responds with big game

SACRAMENTO -- Faced with demotion, you have two options, sulk or come out swinging. Willie Cauley-Stein chose option two Friday evening at Golden 1 Center.

After starting all 14 games to begin the season, Cauley-Stein found himself relegated to the second unit against the Portland Trail Blazers. The 7-footer looked energized by the move and made one play after another as the Kings came away with the 86-82 victory.

“I felt free - period,” Cauley-Stein said following the win. “Both offensively, defensively. I’m quarterbacking on defense. I’m getting to make plays on offense. I just feel liberated. I feel like it’s unlocking.”

The third-year big began the 2017-18 campaign with back-to-back double-doubles, but hadn’t notched double-figures in rebounds since. Over his previous eight games, the Kings’ starting center was averaging just 4.3 boards per game.

Against Portland, Cauley-Stein played sparkling defense, hit 9-of-17 from the floor for a team-high 22 points and hit the glass for 10 boards. He skied above the Blazers bigs for a rebound with 3.4 seconds remaining and his second free throw attempt sealed the win for a Kings team in desperate need of a win.

“Willie’s a hell of a player, obviously,” veteran big Kosta Koufos said. “He’s really athletic, he’s a special talent.”

Koufos and Cauley-Stein made a devastating defensive duo for Sacramento. Both bigs showed on the high pick-and-roll and avoided fouling the Blazers high-powered guards.

“That’s a crazy defensive lineup right there, me and Kosta play really well together,” Cauley-Stein said. “I’ve been waiting for that lineup since we started.”

Damian Lillard scored 29 points, but he shot just 9-of-25 from the field and 5-for-14 from long range. C.J. McCollum knocked down 8-of-15 from the floor, but he missed all four of his 3-point attempts as Sacramento closed out and pressured the shooter all night long.

Cauley-Stein wasn’t the only starter to find himself on the bench to start the game. Dave Joerger turned to a dual point guard backcourt, using De’Aaron Fox and George Hill side-by-side, while bringing rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic in with the second unit.

Playing off the ball for long stretches, Hill responded to the move with 14 points and five assists in 27 minutes. Fox had a quiet offensive night, but his defense on both Lillard and McCollum was inspired.

“We can both attack and he’s a great shooter so that really helps me,” Fox said of Hill. “He’s a mentor on the court. It’s a lot easier to play with him then to watch him play.”

Sacramento held Portland to just 37 percent shooting overall and 28 percent from behind the arc. They pressured the Blazers in the backcourt and slowed the game to screeching halt.

With the win, the Kings snapped their three-game losing streak and improved to 4-11 on the season. They jumped a plane for Portland following the game where they’ll face the same Trail Blazer team Saturday in a rare back-to-back against the same team.

The Kings likely be without the services of shooting guard Buddy Hield, who left the game in the fourth quarter with a sprained right ankle. Hield limped into the locker room on crutches following the victory and the initial indications point to him missing the rematch.

A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach


A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach

OAKLANDThe Oakland A’s named Matt Williams as third base coach on Bob Melvin’s coaching staff for the 2018 season, the club announced today.

Williams spent five seasons on the Arizona Diamondbacks coaching staff as first base coach (2010) and third base coach (2011-13, 16) and also managed the Washington Nationals for two seasons.  He was named National League Manager of the Year by the BBWAA in his first season as manager in 2014, guiding the Nationals to a 96-66 record and an NL East title.  He went 83-79 in 2015 for a 179-145 (.552) record in two seasons as manager.

Williams played 17 seasons in the majors with San Francisco (1987-96), Cleveland (1997) and Arizona (1998-2003).  He was a .268 career hitter with 378 home runs and 1218 RBI in 1866 games.  Williams was a five-time All-Star and won four Gold Gloves as a third baseman.

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