<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - San Diego Sports News, Photos, and Scores for the Padres, Chargers and More]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.com en-us Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:37:02 -0700 Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:37:02 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Cashner is Money Again]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 23:59:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/170*120/484273419.jpg

Andrew Cashner (2-1), fresh of his one-hit complete game shutout Friday, pitched into the eighth inning Wednesday night to get the win.

Like Friday, Cashner made very few mistakes. One was a 408-foot solo home run off the bat of Justin Morneau in the second inning. However, the Padres evened up the score in the bottom of the second thanks to a Tommy Medica blast deep into the left field seats.

The game stayed tied until the 5th inning, then similar to Monday night, the Padres got a break on a mistake between pitcher and catcher. This time a passed ball by catcher Jordan Pacheco allowed a run to score. Alexi Amarista trotted in from third to give the Padres a one run advantage. Two pitches later Chris Denorfia doubled to right scoring Everth Cabrera, extending the lead to 3-1. It was one of two RBI's for Denorfia on the evening.

The Rockies made things interesting in the sixth. After three straight singles the bases were loaded, but Cashner got Pacheco to ground into an inning ending double play.  

Houston Street pitched the 9th for his 5th save, securing a 4-2 victory for the Friars. Cashner is now 2-1 on the season with a 1.27 ERA. The teams conclude the four game series Thursday afternoon at Petco Park. Ian Kennedy (1-2 / 4.24 ERA ) gets the start for the Padres.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cashner, Rivera a Dynamic Duo for Padres]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 00:08:31 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/cashner+rivera.jpg

Pitcher Andrew Cashner and catcher Rene Rivera would be compared to Batman and Robin, if only the Caped Crusader could throw a slider or the Boy Wonder could call for it low and away.

They have become a veritable dynamic duo for the Padres, keeping America’s Finest Gotham City safe from villainous threats like Miggy the Tiger and The Puig.

Dating back to last season, Cashner has thrown 10 straight quality starts (six-plus innings pitched with three or less earned runs). Rivera has been behind the plate for every one of those.

“His game-calling ability is incredible,” Cashner says of his battery mate. “We have a good relationship and friendship. And it translates to the game. If I’m struggling, he’s out there yelling at me.”

His last time out, Cashner mowed down 14 straight Detroit Tigers to start the game before allowing a single. That was the only hit the Tigers mustered all night against the burly right-hander.

For the only organization without a no-hitter, the 11-strikeout, two-walk outing was talked about as perhaps the most dominant pitching performance in Padres history. It was the second time during the current QS streak that Cashner has allowed just one hit. But still, it wasn’t a no-no.

"It's one of my goals. I definitely want a no-hitter," Cashner said.

Rivera is confident his pitcher will have more opportunities to put up all zeroes.

“I know he can do it,” Rivera said. “He’s the kind of guy who works hard and is competitive. He was Cashner (on Friday).”

Cashner looks to extend that streak tonight as the Padres take on the Colorado Rockies at Petco Park.

On a team carrying three catchers on the roster, Rivera seems to have found a niche that will get him in the lineup at least every few days, despite hitting just .154 on the season.

The Padres are 4-1 when he starts behind the plate, having allowed just nine runs in those five starts. He caught the Padres’ other win over the Tigers this weekend, a Tyson Ross start that won them the series over the defending AL Central champs.

Cashner credits Rivera’s “stick pitching ability” – the way he can make a pitch look good even if it’s not. He also points to his own maturation, knowing what he can and can’t do.

“For me, it’s not so much velocity anymore as it is movement,” Cashner explains “I can throw 90 and do more things with it. The biggest thing is to throw strikes. Eliminate walks.”

Rivera is happy to be along for the ride as Cashner’s dominance over the league continues.

“It’s great that people see what he can do on a daily basis,“ he said of the Padres ace. “Hopefully it continues. He has the stuff to do it.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Yasiel Puig's Controversial Journey From Cuba]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 07:23:41 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/177071265.jpg

The background of Los Angeles Dodgers right-fielder Yasiel Puig is making headlines after an article in Los Angeles Magazine alleges that the baseball player was smuggled into the United States by a drug cartel.

"Jesse Katz's article about Puig's path from Cuba to LA (is) filled with danger, extortion, drug money, death threats," sportscaster Petros Papdakis said on the "Petros & Money" radio show Tuesday.

The highly researched exposé, published Sunday, claims Puig was smuggled out of Cuba by a Mexican drug cartel that wanted a cut of Puig’s eventual multimillion dollar salary.

According to the article, a Miami-based air-conditioning repairman named Raul Pacheco funded the transportation of Puig to Mexico by the Los Zetas Mexican drug cartel in June 2012. The smugglers then held Puig in a hotel for weeks while trying to extract more money from Pacheco. The smugglers allegedly even threatened to mutilate Puig, and in turn jeopardize his baseball career, as part of the extortion.

"You have to somehow associate with unsavory people and be part of this criminal pipeline that’s going to deliver you," said Jesse Katz, the journalist who wrote the piece.

Katz said similar situation have happened before with other Cuban exiles.

Both the Dodgers and Major League Baseball would not comment on the allegations.

The LA Times’ Bill Plaschke suggested Tuesday that if the drug cartel is upset with a lack of payment, it could be a safety risk for the Dodgers.

LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck would not discuss specifics in terms of added security around Puig, but did say that the department works "very closely with the Dodgers and adjusts "deployment based on the needs."

Puig signed a 7-year contract with the Dodgers for $42 million.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Fall to Rockies 3-2]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 00:01:14 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/robbie+erlin+pitcher.jpg

Yesterday marked the 67th anniversary of the day Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier. All players wore #42 in his honor.

As for the game, the Padres came out swinging against the Rockies. They got four straight hits in the first inning, but scored just twice. Jedd Gyorko was part of the fun with his first RBI single since signing his new five year contract.

The Padres led 2-0 but the Rockies chipped away at that lead. In the fifth, with the bases loaded they took the lead on an infield hit by Wilin Rosario off of pitcher Tim Stauffer's glove. All of the Rockies runs were charged to starter Robbie Erlin (1-1), who took the loss. The Rockies won it 3-2, ending the Padres two game winning streak.

Shortstop Everth Cabrera missed the game after tweaking his right knee on a diving play in Monday night's game. He hopes to play Wednesday.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gyorko, Padres Agree To Contract Extension]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 19:38:35 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/169*120/484635177.jpg

For years, one of the biggest frustrations for Padres fans been watching talented young players start their careers in San Diego, then blossom in to All-Stars (or sometimes legends) in other cities.

Ozzie Smith, Roberto Alomar, Sandy Alomar, John Kruk, etc. So Monday's news that 2nd baseman Jedd Gyorko is locked up for the long term is a nice, and long overdue.

The Padres and Gyorko agreed to a 5-year contract extension worth at least $35 million. It will keep Jedd in San Diego through at least the 2019 season.

Gyorko led the Padres in RBI as a rookie in 2013, and he even missed more than a month of the season with an injury. The West Virginia native also played above-average defense at 2nd, a bonus given the fact it was his first full season playing the position.

"When they approached me, a big part of why I wanted to do it is I wanted to stay in San Diego," said Gyorko on Monday. "My family loves it here. People have treated us like family so it made it an easy decision."

The contract numbers break down like this:

$2 million in 2015.
$4 million in 2016.
$6 million in 2017.
$9 million in 2018.
$13 million in 2019.
Club option for 2020 at $13 million, with a $1 million buyout.

Now, Padres fans, I already know what you're thinking: Sure, the deal looks great, but they will inevitably trade him before it runs its course anyway.

I counter with this: Padres Executive Chairman Ron Fowler has said since his ownership group took over that the team's payroll would be increasing. So far, he has lived up to his word, another reason Gyorko cited for committing to San Diego.

"I love how the ownership is. Their vision is something I want to be a part of. I think this team is capable of doing big things."

It is squarely within the realm of possibility the Padres are, indeed, on the brink of big things like contending for World Series titles with players the drafted and developed.

I mean, John Elway eventually won a Super Bowl. Phil Mickelson eventually won a major title. Roy Williams eventually won an NCAA Basketball title. Even the Washington Generals eventually beat the Harlem Globetrotters.

In sports, anything can happen.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres-Rockies Series Preview]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 15:57:27 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/everth+cabrera+padres.jpg

Could this be the start of something good? The Padres look to build on their first series win of the season  as the division rival Colorado Rockies come to town for a very winnable four-game set starting tonight.

The Padres’ pitching dominated a robust Tigers lineup over the weekend, shutting them out in the opener and holding them to a single run in the rubber match as they took two of three games against the three-time AL Central champs.

Read more: Watching baseball with dad

The bats even got warmed up in the process, something that bodes well against a Rockies rotation that nobody will mistake for Cy Young candidates.

The Rockies (6-7) actually lead the Friars (5-7) by a half-game in the standings, but have lost three of their last five, including two games in a weekend series against the San Francisco Giants.

When they play: This is the middle series of a 10-game homestand at Petco Park. The teams play night games on Monday through Wednesday, starting at 7:10 p.m. Thursday’s getaway game will be at 3:40 p.m.

What’s at stake: Both teams are jockeying for position in the NL West behind the Dodgers and Giants, who square off in San Fran this week. If one team can take three or four games in this series, they can get right up in the mix early on in the division race.

Who is pitching: The Pads look to build on some strong performances over the weekend, including a dominating one-hitter from Andrew Cashner (1-1, 1.29 ERA) on Friday. He takes the mound Wednesday, meaning the bottom of the rotation must get it done early on in the series. Eric Stults (0-2, 5.59) gets the call in the opener, looking to turn out his first quality start of the season. He’s followed by Robbie Erlin (1-0, 1.35), who  threw a gritty six innings to beat the Cleveland Indians last week. Ian Kennedy (1-2, 4.24) takes the mound Thursday in the finale.

For the Rockies, Jordan Lyles (2-0, 3.86) will try to stay perfect on the season tonight with Juan Nicasio (1-0, 3.75) following on Tuesday. Jorge De La Rosa (0-2, 9.69) has looked like anything but an ace so far this season, giving up 14 earned runs in three starts. He will try to right the ship against Cashner on Wednesday. Thursday’s starter has not been announced.

Who to watch: How about those Padres bats! Everth Cabrera continues to bolster the top of the San Diego order, despite striking out a team-high 16 times. He’s on a six-game hitting streak, pounding out five hits over the weekend.

De-facto cleanup hitter Jedd Gyorko drove in runs in all three weekend games, jacking his first long ball on Sunday. Catcher Yasmani Grandal is making a case for more playing time, with a pair of hits in his only start over the weekend. And how about Xavier Nady – two hits, both for home runs this season.

For Colorado, Charlie Blackmon (who?) is absolutely on fire with 20 hits in his first 41 at-bats (.488). Michael Cuddyer has picked up where he left off last year when he won the league batting title. He’s hitting .354 with three long balls. And you can’t talk about the Rockies lineup without mentioning Carlos Gonzalez. CarGo leads the team with four homers and 13 RBI.

Why go: Tuesday is Jackie Robinson Day throughout the league. All players will wear No. 42 on their jerseys to honor the baseball pioneer. It’s also the season’s first Taco Tuesday. Get tacos for a buck. Tickets are available for all three games.

What’s next: The Giants come to town this weekend in another key division matchup. Will the Padres be in striking distance of first place by the time they get to town? Well, let’s just take it one game at a time.

Matthew Wood covers the Padres for #OnFriar. Reach him at matthew.wood@nbcuni.com and follow him on Twitter @mcarloswood.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Watching Padres and Tigers with Pops]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 10:45:43 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/father+son+padres+tigers+thumb.jpg

This weekend's series between the Padres and the Detroit Tigers at Petco Park marked the 30th anniversary of the two teams playing in the World Series in 1984.

It means so much more for me. Growing up in Michigan, I was a die-hard Tigers fan, a trait I picked up at an early age from my father. He took me to Game 4 of that series, one of my earliest and fondest memories from childhood.

For those who don’t recall, the Tigers won that series, four games to one, to win their first World Series in almost two decades.

So many things about that team stand out to me and will always be ingrained in my brain: Jack Morris throwing a no-hitter in the first weekend of the season (watched with my dad on the couch). Fans doing the wave at the old Tiger Stadium (watched with him when he took me to a game during the regular season). The way they rolled through the playoffs (he took me to the ALCS clincher too).

I remember watching the Padres win the National League Championship Series. I didn’t know much about the team back then. Their manager (Dick Williams) looked old, just like ours (Sparky Anderson). They beat the Cubs, but didn’t everybody? Their jerseys were ugly. Steve Garvey was an awesome player. And their relief pitcher, Goose Gossage, had a crazy mustache. These are the things that rattle around the head of a youngster.

I’ll never forget that Game 4. Alan Trammell hit two home runs. Jack Morris pitched the entire game for the 4-2 win. And all was well in my little kid world.

My dad actually had tickets to the next game of the series – the one where the Tigers clinched their first World Series since 1968 – but he decided to take his new girlfriend at the time. I’m not gonna lie and say I wasn’t mad. But I was able to let it go, especially since they’ve now been married for 25 years.

Especially because we were champs, and I was one happy kid.

After the Tigers won the clinching game, fans ran on the field to celebrate. Some of them threw chunks of sod from the outfield into the stands. My dad caught one of those chunks, brought it home and planted it in our back yard. There it grew for years. When we moved, we took the sod with us. That piece of Tigers history will be with us forever, growing in our back yard.

I was able to relive some of those memories this weekend. Pops flew out from Michigan and we went to all three games together. It was amazing.

It's such a cliche, but still so true: Baseball brings fathers and sons together. It always has, it always will.

In "City Slickers," Billy Crystal and his friends remember being a teenagers and having nothing to talk about with their dads except for the sport.

James Earl Jones waxes poetic in his booming voice in “Field of Dreams,” talking about the power of “BASE-ball” with an emphasis only he can provide.

It’s no different with us. The Tigers have always been a special bond. They will always be our team, just like any number of fathers and sons all over.

So we watched all three games, exploring Petco Park along the way and talking about great players past. We probably ate more hot dogs than is healthy for anybody in one weekend, but that’s the way it is.

For Tigers fans, it was not a series worth remembering. The Padres took two of three games, shutting us out on Friday and holding us to one run on Sunday.

For me, it was something I’ll never forget. It was me and my dad, watching baseball. Thirty years after that amazing season, we’re still making memories at the ballpark.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Matthew Wood covers the Padres for #OnFriar. Reach him at matthew.wood@nbcuni.com and ollow him @mcarloswood.

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<![CDATA[Padres Win First Series Of Season]]> Sun, 13 Apr 2014 20:35:44 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*122/484635171.jpg

Padres 2nd baseman Jedd Gyorko has not been a 2nd baseman for very long. He did not move to the position full-time until just before 2013 Spring Training.

It has not taken the former 3rd baseman long to adjust to his new spot.

Gyorko made a pair of fantastic defensive plays on Sunday, helping the Padres to a 5-1 win over the Tigers at Petco Park. The Friars won their first series of the season 2-1.

In the 3rd inning, Gyorko ranged far to his left to field an Ian Kinsler grounder and keep a run from scoring. In the 5th he made a fully extended dive to his right to rob Max Scherzer of a base hit.

If Scherzer ever sees Gyorko again, it'll be too soon. Jedd also crushed a fastball 385 feet to left field in the 2nd inning, a solo shot that gave the Padres a 1-0 lead. It was Gyorko's first home run of the year.

"Yeah, I should do that more often," he deadpanned after the game.

All of Gyorko's work helped Tyson Ross get his first win of the year. Ross struggled in his first two starts against the Dodgers and Indians, issuing nine walks in 10.1 innings. He worked with pitching coach Darren Balsley during the week and was sharp against Detroit.

Ross only walked one and allowed one run in seven innings, striking out seven.

Tyson was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the 7th inning. That guy was Xavier Nady, who promptly hit a solo home run on to the beach in right-center. His last three MLB hits have been home runs.

Two of them have come this year with the Padres. The one before that came back in 2012, when he hit one off Padres closer Huston Street at Petco.

The Padres continue their 10-day homestand on Monday when they start a 4-game series against the Colorado Rockies.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[49ers' Aldon Smith Arrested For False Bomb Threat]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 11:59:29 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/10-9-2013-aldon-smith.jpg

San Francisco 49ers star linebacker Aldon Smith was taken into custody by police at Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday following an encounter with a TSA agent, police said.

According to the Los Angeles Police Department, 25-year-old Smith from San Jose, Calif., was arrested at LAX after making a bomb threat. He was released from custody after posting $20,000 bail Sunday evening and was not charged on Monday, as is standard for out-of-custody defendents, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney.

According to the police statement, Smith was going through Terminal 1 screening and was randomly selected for a secondary screening at about 2 p.m.. Smith "then became belligerent and uncooperative with the process and with the TSA agent, making a comment indicating that he was in possession of a bomb before proceeding towards the gate area."

Los Angeles Airport Police made contact with Smith at the gate, where he was identified as the person in question. Once again, Smith became uncooperative and was detained and taken into custody by Airport Police and transported to LAPD and booked for California Penal Code 148.1(a) - false report of a bomb threat.

Additional eyewitness accounts support the accusation.

An airport employee said that he witnessed the confrontation at the gate between Smith and police.

"I could hear him saying bomb, and then I looked and noticed who it was," an LAX employee who said his name was "Garet" told NBC Bay Area. "He was taking money out of his pocket and throwing it on the ground saying, ‘It’ll be all right. It’ll be all right.'"

The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit has confirmed police at the airport said it appeared Smith may have been drunk earlier in the day. He was belligerent, but he was not charged with being drunk in public, police said.

The airport said it did not run or request any blood alcohol tests because alcohol was not a factor in the arrest.

TMZ Sports was first to post footage of police officers at LAX taking Smith into custody. Smith can can be heard in the video saying he did nothing wrong.

San Francisco 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke released a statement saying the team is "disappointed to learn of the incident today involving Aldon Smith." He declined to comment further, citing a "pending legal matter."

This is the fourth criminal case against Smith in the last two years.

Smith had hearings on two separate criminal cases last Friday, including three felony counts of possessing an illegal assault weapon and a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of alcohol, according to Deputy District Attorney Brian Buckelew.

Smith wasn't present for the hearing.

The district attorney's office filed the three felony charges against Smith on Oct. 9, after the office's firearms unit examined five rifles recovered by sheriff's deputies from Smith's rented home outside San Jose in 2012. Deputies searched the home after a raucous late-night party where two people were shot and wounded and Smith was stabbed in the leg.

During the crowded party, which was attended by 49ers player Chris Culliver and former 49ers player Delanie Walker, Smith fired a .45 caliber handgun into the air to disburse partygoers before he was stabbed.

The man prosecutors alleged stabbed Smith, Steven Raymond Burba, a reputed gang member, was later arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Authorities have not arrested a suspect in the shootings of the two victims at the party.

When sheriff's deputies arrived at Smith's home to investigate, they found five rifles in his bedroom, including three assault weapons, an Armalite AR-10T and two Bushmaster brand rifles, which Smith bought legally in Arizona in 2011 but are illegal to possess in California, prosecutors said.

Smith's separate DUI case was on the court calendar for a pretrial conference. He was arrested on suspicion of DUI and marijuana possession on Sept. 20, after San Jose police said he crashed his car into a tree at about 7 a.m. on Bentley Ridge Drive in San Jose.

Some 49ers fans said they were not surprised Smith has had yet another brush with the law.

"You would think he’d get his act together after getting caught after having that DUI crash in San Jose but he’s young, he’s not learning," 49ers fan TJ Duran said.

"I would be shocked if he has a future with the team," football fan Sean Smith said.


Credit for cell phone video: Clayton Mullaly, USMC combat vet.

 

Information from Bay City News was used in this report.



Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jedd's Getting More "Jedd-Like" at the Plate]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 07:04:28 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Bud-Black-04132014.jpg San Diego Padres manager Bud Black talks about Jedd Gyorko's hit in the team's 5-1 win over the Tigers at Petco Park. ]]> <![CDATA[Raiders May Like Savage as a Late QB Pick]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 08:54:14 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/165*120/tmmsavgee.jpg

In early February, it seemed a certainty that quarterback-starved teams such as the Texans, Browns, Jaguars and Raiders would help themselves to a buffet of highly rated passers.

Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles, among others, were considered high first-round picks.

But as the days tick off toward the opening round of the draft on May 8, those teams now seem far less in love with those prospects – especially if they stay in the top five of the draft.

Now, it seems, a number of teams – including the Raiders – may be content to take a top prospect at another position high in the first round, then wait until the second or third round to take a chance on a young quarterback.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback wrote Monday that he’s heard from sources that Houston, Jacksonville, Cleveland and Oakland “are strongly considering passing on quarterbacks with their first picks and waiting until their second or third selections.”

The reason: none of those teams is “in love” with one of the top prospects, but believes it can get value later in the draft among prospects such as Derek Carr, A.J. McCarron, Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenburger, Jimmy Garoppolo or Logan Thomas.

Now, too, other prospects have begun to emerge through recent evaluations that weren’t even on the radar a couple of months ago, such as Tom Savage of Pittsburgh who visited the Raiders this past week.

Savage started at Rutgers, transferred to Arizona (but never played) then moved again, to Pitt, where he started this past season and threw for 2,958 yards, completed 61 percent of his passes and threw for 21 TDs vs. nine interceptions.

Some scouts now say Savage has perhaps the best arm of any quarterback prospect, and he has good size at 6-feet-4 and 228 pounds.

As Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com noted recently, Savage “would seemingly fit the mold for the Raiders, who are going all in with Matt Schaub” as their starter, with Matt McGloin as backup – for now. In other words: a pocket passer.

Bucky Brooks of the NFL Network and NFL.com, calls Savage a “sleeper”  who could be one of the draft’s surprises. Former NFL exec Gil Brandt, also of NFL.com, says Savage reminds him of Hall of Famer Troy Aikman. And Mike Mayock of the NFL Network says Savage is a “wild card” of this quarterback class whose size, arm strength and raw talents could make him a future star.

But with Schaub and McGloin ahead of him, Savage would be able to develop and be coached up to NFL caliber without the pressure of performing immediately. And, says Brooks, that’s a good thing – because he’s not ready to play.

“He is erratic with his accuracy and ball placement,” wrote Brooks. “He needs to work on controlling the velocity of his ball to make it easier for receivers to catch his passes. Additionally, Savage must develop better footwork and mechanics in the pocket to make up for his lack of athleticism and mobility. Given the work Savage needs to do to become a potential starter, he will earn developmental grades (Rounds 4-7) on most boards and enter the league viewed as a probable No. 3 quarterback as a rookie.”

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Verlander's Variety Beats Padres]]> Sat, 12 Apr 2014 22:34:57 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/177*120/484483575.jpg

Friday night at Petco Park, the Padres beat the Tigers behind their ace and six runs. Saturday night, it was Detroit's turn to use that approach.

A night after being shut out by Andrew Cashner, the Motor City Kitties rode Justin Verlander to a 6-2 win over the Padres in front of a sellout crowd in the East Village. Verlander punched out eight and gave up just two runs.

Padres starter Ian Kennedy was not bad himself, striking out seven in six innings of work. Kennedy got hurt by a couple of pitches in not quite the right places.

In the 4th inning, with the Tigers leading 2-1, Ian allowed a single to Verlander (who got the first two hits of his Major League career on Saturday) then another single to Ian Kinsler. With two outs, Kennedy threw a first-pitch fastball to Torii Hunter, who slapped it right back up the middle for a 2-run single.

"I tried to go low, down and away, and it just ran back over (the plate)," said Kennedy. "When you have a close ballgame like this one of us is going to have that one pitch you're going to think about. That was the situation where you need to make that little bit better pitch."

Verlander made just enough pitches to get the win, but the Padres did not make it easy on him. After stressing the Tigers star in a 30-pitch first inning that produced one run (on a Jedd Gyorko sacrifice fly to score Chris Denorfia), the Padres got the tying run to the plate in the 4th, 5th, and 6th innings.

Each time Verlander was able to pitch his way out of trouble. His crowning achievement may have been in that 6th inning. Catcher Yasmani Grandal singled with one out, then Verlander struck out Will Venable with three straight mid-90's fastballs up in the strike zone.

Padres manager Bud Black sent in Nick Hundley to pinch-hit for Kennedy and Verlander took everyone by surprise, flipping up a slider and three straight curve balls, the last one Hundley looked at for a called strike three.

"That combination is lethal, the high fastball and the good curve," said Black. "He's battle-tested, for sure, and he beat us."

If there's a silver lining, it's that Verlander gave up 8 hits and needed every weapon in his expansive arsenal to beat the Padres. The Friars can still win the series on Sunday when they throw Tyson Ross against Max Scherzer, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[San Diego Rock City]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 23:06:40 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/170*120/484273419.jpg

The Padres entered Friday night's game against the Tigers owners of the lowest-scoring offense in Major League Baseball. So, it stood to reason that this is not a real good time for Detroit's pitching staff to toll in to town.

Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer (Saturday and Sunday's starters) both own Cy Young Awards. Friday's starter Rick Porcello was a first round draft pick who's shown flashes of brilliance, and he's the 5th starter.

Still, in the clubhouse before the game there was a palpable confidence in the Padres clubhouse.

"These are the types of guys you've gotta beat is you want to win in the playoffs," said catcher Yasmani Grandal. "They can be beat. We're big league hitters. We're expected to hit against these guys. Hopefully, at the end of the day, we can take two out of three. Or, the sweep."

He was smiling when he said that last little bit, but if they play anything close to the way they did in their 6-0 win over the Tigers at Petco Park, it's not out of the question.

The Padres put their own ace on the hill, and Andrew Cashner turned in the best performance of the season by any MLB pitcher.

Cashner struck out 11 Tigers hitters in a complete-game, 1-hit shutout. The only hit he allowed was on a Rajai Davis soft liner that diving 2nd baseman Jedd Gyorko missed by maybe an inch. Against a Detroit lineup that featured three All-Stars, including 2-time reigning American League MVP Miguel Cabrera, this start was one for the ages.

"He had tremendous movement with command," said Padres manager Bud Black of Cashner's outing. "He had command of the outside corner to right-handed hitters, he did a good job of getting in on the lefties."

What's crazy is, Cashner did it using mostly fastballs. He mixed a few sliders and changeups in to his 108 pitches, but the biggest weapon was the heater and the diversity with which he used it.

"You saw some fastballs at 90, and I saw some in the upper 90's," said Black. "That was a well-pitched game, as good as you'll see."

Cashner had the luxury of working with a lead, something that had not happened yet this season. The Padres scored twice in the bottom of the first inning, the first runs they've scored with Cashner on the mound in 2014.

Gyorko drove in the first run of the game with a triple to right field that scored Everth Cabrera. It was the first triple of Gyorko's big league career. Jedd scored when Chase Headley dropped a double in to the left-centerfield gap.

Gyorko was making his first appearance in the number three spot in the lineup while Headley made his first start as the cleanup hitter. You can't argue with the results.

Headley also ripped a 2-run home run, his first of the season. The Padres also have their first 2-game winning streak of the year. Not a bad way to start off their string of 20 games in 20 days.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Shawne Merriman to Become Pro Wrestler: Reports]]> Sat, 12 Apr 2014 03:57:32 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/176605738.jpg

 World Wrestling Entertainment is about to produce a brand new wrestling superstar, and Chargers fans will know all about this guy.

Former Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman has been doing some announcing work for the WWE.

But Sunday night at Wrestlemania, he took a picture with San Diego's own Rey Mysterio, which Mysterio posted on Instagram with the hashtag #FutureWWESuperstar.

With that secret revealed, wrestling show hosts John Layfield and Michael Cole announced that Merriman was indeed “joining the WWE family,” according to SB Nation's TestudoTimes.com.

Then came details that Shawne is working out at some WWE facilities.

It makes perfect sense. Guys like The Rock, Goldberg, and Brock Lesnar all had football backgrounds and made a smooth transition to wrestling.

I can already see him doing his "Lights Out" dance before his finishing move.

Let us know in the comments what you think Merriman's signature move should be and what his costume should look like.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[2 Hernandez Associates Indicted on Murder Charge]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 15:08:20 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/hernandezq.jpg

Two associates of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez were indicted Friday on murder charges, in connection with his alleged fatal shooting of a semi-professional football player last year.

A Massachusetts grand jury charged both Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace with murder in connection with the June 2013 shooting death of Odin Lloyd in North Attleboro, Mass., NECN reported.

Bristol County District Attorney's Office said Ortiz and Wallace, both of Bristol, Conn., will be arraigned on the new charge in Fall River on a date that has yet to be determined.

Ortiz and Wallace had both pleaded not guilty to their previous charge of accessory to murder after the fact.

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to murdering 27-year-old Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee.

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<![CDATA[Benoit Brings Experience to Padres Staff]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 12:35:35 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/joaquin-benoit.jpg

Having made his Major League debut in 2001, new bullpen acquisition Joaquin Benoit has a wealth of experience to offer the Padres. He brings something even more important to a young pitching staff: a history of playoff success.

The 36-year-old right-hander has been in the postseason four years straight, the last three making deep runs into October with the Detroit Tigers – who come to town tonight for a weekend series at Petco Park.

To put it into perspective, his 20 playoff appearances are seven more than the rest of the Padres staff combined.

“It’s a playoff mentality,” he said of pitching on the big stage. “You just have to do your job. If you have the mindset on the small things, everything will take care of itself. Some things you can teach, but some things just come with experience.”

Those appearances include three trips to the American League Championship Series and two scoreless outings when the Tigers were swept at the hands of the San Francisco Giants in the 2012 World Series.

He served as the closer for the Tigers last year, racking up 24 saves in 26 opportunities with an impressive 2.01 ERA. He also saved three games in the postseason, but is probably most known for his ill-fated grand slam served up to Boston slugger David Ortiz that got the eventual World Series champion Red Sox back in the ALCS.

Like any good reliever, Benoit doesn’t dwell on what has already happened.

“That’s over. Baseball is a present game. You can’t be living in the past,” said. “It’s baseball. It’s part of the game. That pitch is not coming back.”

Now he’s in San Diego, enjoying his role as mentor to a very young pitching staff.

“He adds another weapon to our bullpen,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “Age wise in his career he brings a great deal of experience to our staff. He’s a great sounding board for guys like (Nick) Vincent and (Donn) Roach.”

He also has a new role – same as the old role for much of a 14-year career – as a setup man. It’s something Benoit relishes.

“I really enjoy it. It’s where I feel I can help the team,” he said. “To get to the ninth, you gotta have a clean eighth.”

As he heads into the latter portion of his career, he has become more realistic about his goals for the season.

“I’m really trying to keep myself healthy,” said Benoit, who has made at least 55 appearances in all but one season since 2006. He has already taken the mound four times for the Friars this year – three of them scoreless outings. “I just want to try to help the young guys and myself.”

He downplays a reunion with his old teammates from Detroit.

“It’s baseball. It’s normal to get to see the guys you played with,” he said. “I’m gonna have time to chat and to catch up. But it’s part of the game. I just enjoy the ride.”

Padres fans can only hope the ride includes extending that playoff streak another year.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Thieves Targeting High-End Bikes]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 09:33:27 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/cyclist-generic-bicycle-san.jpg

San Diego police are actively investigating a high-end bicycle theft case that's believed to be part of a countywide series.

Two men in their 20s have been arrested and are believed to be responsible for dozens of bike theft cases.

Some of the recovered stolen bikes are valued at as high as $15,000.

Carmel Valley resident Timothy Hall and his fiancé Karen Singer may be one of the victims.

Their specialized FSR mountain bike, initially purchased for more than $1,000, was stolen earlier this year.

Hall had locked the bicycle along with two beach cruisers to their car port. He says he used a heavy-duty, professional lock.

“I came out and didn’t expect to see the bike gone, and I thought what happened to my bike?” Hall said. “I look at the ground and I see this big lock was cut right in half with what seemed to be professional bolt cutters.”

Hall says the thieves left behind the beach cruisers.

“Obviously they were scoping the neighborhood looking for good bikes,” he said.

According to Officer Jim Johnson, the suspects target high-end homes, drive through the neighborhoods and look for open garage doors or accessible patios for any expensive bikes.

To protect your bicycle, police advise you not to leave your garage door open and unattended.

Don’t leave your bike on your porch or patio without being locked up.

As far as getting your bicycle back, take good photographs of it and document all of the factor serial numbers on any parts including the frame.

Many stolen bikes are parted out and these individual parts do not contain serial numbers. If you have an expensive seat, fork, rims or drive-train, permanently mark each item and photograph and document those marks. In some of these cases, police may recover many of the parts with no way for the victim to positively identify them.

Another option is purchasing a GPS tracking system that can be attached to your bicycle, similar to those available for vehicles.

Officials say there may be additional suspects in the crime ring.

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<![CDATA[Beyond the Vroom-Vroom: Toyota Grand Prix To-Dos]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 09:18:39 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/grandprixlbc167107611.jpg

How do you know when you're dealing with a major, major, major event?

First, over 175,000 people just show up. Second, celebrities from all disciplines participate. And third? There are enough happenings outside the main focus to fill up a bustling, variety-brimmed three-day weekend.

Why yes, good guess: We are in fact speaking of the 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which vroom-vrooms and zoom-zooms through the streets of the ocean-close burg from Friday, April 11 through Sunday, April 13.

Wait -- are three "majors," with one in italics, big enough for the Toyota Grand Prix? Does it need a fourth? Because it is huge. 175,000 people huge. Fast car huge. Huge.

A host of races, with the luminaries of racing and film, are the street-fast centerpieces, but for tag-along friends not into extreme speed, there's oodles to do off the squeal-wheeled course.

Like? The mega, mega, mega Lifestyle Expo, where "more than 270 displays" draw thousands of lookie-loos into the Convention Center Arena. Alternative energy vehicles, an exhibit detailing Four Decades of Racing in the Streets -- yep, it's a look back at huge Grand Prix times and people -- and electric cars for kid-racing'll all be in the house.

Outside of the expo? Tecate throws a free concert on Friday night, April 11, featuring rock-electronica cool group Kinky. The stage? It's Convention Center-adjacent.

And food and beverage shall rule the racing roost. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. is hosting the Turn One Club, while other eat-and-watch clubs are springing up at other points along the route.

Truth? Given the major, major, mega, mega nature of the motorized proceedings, you can get down with the race action and give the Lifestyle Expo some love. For all of the race/non-race happenings, eye the always helpful, always pdf, always chock-packed-with-info Grand Prix Fan Guide.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kaepernick Rips Report]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 13:11:43 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/461570031.jpg

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick slammed media reports that he is being investigated by Miami police for sexual assault.

In a series of three tweets first sent at 7:30 a.m. Friday morning, Kaepernick wrote:

"The charges made in the TMZ story and other stories I’ve seen are completely wrong," he tweeted.  "They make things up about me that never happened. I take great pride in who I am and what I do, but  I guess sometimes you have to deal with someone who makes things up. I want to thank all of the people who have shared their encouraging sentiments. I assure you that your faith is not misplaced."

TMZ on Thursday first broke the news about Kaepernick, saying in its headline that he was being investigated for a sexual assault.

Later in the day, the Miami police department released a report filed April 3 by a woman who said she is a former lover of Kaepernick's. In the report, the woman said that she partied with him and two other NFL players, passed out at the Miami Viceroy hotel on April 2, and wound up at a hospital later without having any idea how she got there.

The report alleges no specific crime.

According to the police report, the woman -- who, according to the police report, had a previous sexual relationship with Kaepernick -- said she went to visit Ricardo Lockette, 27, at his unit at the luxury residences of the Viceroy in downtown Miami on April 1 about 9 p.m. Kaepernick and 49ers wide receiver Quinton Patton, 23, were also there.

The woman said she mixed drinks for the men and gave them shots, according to the report. She said the men told her that if she wanted to drink she had to "hit the bong, which contained marijuana," the report states.

They chatted for a while and watched basketball.

Before midnight, she started to feel "light headed," she told police, and she went to lie down.

She said Kaepernick came behind her in the bedroom and started kissing her, the report states. He started to undress her, and she told police she got naked. They did not have sex at this time, the report states.

Kaepernick left, saying he'd be right back.The Viceroy Hotel & Spa is seen in this image captured Thursday, April 10, 2014.

The Viceroy Hotel & Spa is seen in this image captured Thursday, April 10, 2014. (Photo: NBC 6 South Florida)

When the woman called out that she was in bed naked, Patton and Lockette opened the door and "peeked" inside, the report states. She remembers yelling, "What are you doing? Where is Colin? Get out!" the report states. They closed the door and left.

But the woman cannot remember anything after that.

She woke up in a hospital and can't remember arriving there.

Miami police said they are investigating the report, as is standard when someone files one.

Wisconsin-based XAM Sports, which represents Kaepernick, also issued a statement to CSN Bay Area in support of their client on Friday.

"We stand by Colin 100% and are fully confident that the truth will be evident once the facts come to light regarding this matter. Thank you for supporting Colin."

Agent Scott Smith represents Kaepernick, who is in line for a lucrative contract extension.

General manager Trent Baalke said recently at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Fla., the 49ers hope to have a new deal in place before the opening of training camp. And 49ers CEO Jed York said Kaepernick deserves to be paid like a top quarterback.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers in an Interesting Preseason Spot]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 08:38:48 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Chargers-Bolt-Generic.jpg

When the NFL's preseason schedule was released this week, the Chargers found themselves in a unique spot. As a refresher, here's what their exhibition schedule looks like, with final dates and game times to be determined (except Week 3, which is already set):

Week 1 (August 7-10)

vs. Dallas

Week 2 (August 14-18)

at Seattle

Week 3 (Sunday, August 24th, 1:00)

at San Francisco

Week 4 (August 21-24)

vs. Arizona

It looks like a typical Charger preseason slate. They play the 49ers every year and have worked in a healthy dose of the Seahawks, Cardinals and Cowboys in recent seasons. What is different this year is, the exhibition games will not be the only time the Bolts see a few of these teams.

Since the NFL rotates opponents by division, the AFC West plays the NFC West in 2014. That means the Chargers will get a look at Seattle, San Francisco and Arizona in both the preseason and the regular season, an anomaly to say the least.

It puts the Chargers in a bit of a strange spot. All three of those teams are coming off winning seasons, and Seattle and San Francisco might be the two best teams in football. So, it should be a great chance for the Bolts (and their opponents) to get a feel for each other.

However, odds are that is not going to happen. If NFL teams keep things generic in a normal preseason game against a team they might not even meet until the Super Bowl, what are we going to see when the potential of handing over an advanced scouting report is introduced to the equation?

Those games will probably look like an old Big 8 conference game from the 1950's. There won't be a whole lot of wrinkles. The goal will simply be to get everybody out healthy with little to no attention paid to making the game in any way enjoyable to watch.

That is the biggest problem with the NFL not altering its exhibition schedule when multiple opponents are going to meet up in the preseason and regular season. Fans are still forced to ante up and pay top dollar to watch a sub-par product that is only going to get worse in 2014.

For a $9 billion entity to be so callous towards its fan base is simply not right. Alas, it's probably never going to change.

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<![CDATA[Kaepernick Probed in Hotel Incident]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 03:57:18 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP8942224809.jpg

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is being investigated by police in Miami in connection to an incident that allegedly involves a woman who passed out inside a luxury hotel room.

The report released by the Miami Police Department on Thursday does not charge Kaepernick with any specific crime.

A woman told authorities she partied with Kaepernick -- and two other NFL players -- and ended up in a South Florida hospital room without any recollection of how she got there, according to the police report.

The alleged encounter happened at the Viceroy Hotel in downtown Miami the evening of April 1.

Along with 26-year-old Kaepernick, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette, 27, and 23-year-old 49ers wide receiver Quinton Patton, who is entering his second NFL season, are both mentioned in the incident report. CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco reports Kaepernick and Lockette forged a tight friendship during Lockette's time on the 49ers' practice squad in 2012.

Police in Miami are continuing to investigate whether Kaepernick and the two other NFL players mentioned are responsible for any wrongdoing.

“There is not much we can say about it, other than it is an open investigation for all three of these men,” Miami Police spokeswoman Kenia Reyes said.

The report was taken by Miami police on April 3, when the unnamed woman walked into the department's central station.

According to the police report, the woman said she went to visit Lockette at his unit at the luxury residences of the Viceroy on April 1 about 9 p.m. Patton and Kaepernick were also there.

The woman said she mixed drinks for the men and gave them shots, according to the report. She said the men told her that if she wanted to drink she had to "hit the bong, which contained marijuana," the report states.

They chatted for a while and watched basketball.

Before midnight, she started to feel "light headed," she told police, and she went to lie down.

She said Kaepernick came behind her in the bedroom and started kissing her, the report states. He started to undress her, and she told police she got naked. They did not have sex at this time, the report states.

Kaepernick left, saying he'd be right back.The Viceroy Hotel & Spa is seen in this image captured Thursday, April 10, 2014.

The Viceroy Hotel & Spa is seen in this image captured Thursday, April 10, 2014. (Photo: NBC 6 South Florida)

When the woman called out that she was in bed naked, Patton and Lockette opened the door and "peeked" inside, the report states. She remembers yelling, "What are you doing? Where is Colin? Get out!" the report states. They closed the door and left.

But the woman cannot remember anything after that.

She woke up in a hospital and can't remember arriving there.

The woman told police that she and Kaepernick had a sexual relationship in the past.

San Francisco 49ers’ General Manager Trent Baalke released a statement to the media Thursday morning, which said:

“The 49ers organization is aware of the recent media report regarding Colin Kaepernick and is in the process of gathering the pertinent facts.”

TMZ first broke the news. TMZ's report says any investigation is in the "beginning stages," according to law enforcement sources.

Niners cornerback Tramaine Brock said he thinks the investigation "must be a hoax."

Kaepernick has apparently been training in South Florida during the offseason. Less than week ago, the 49ers QB posted to Instagram a photo of himself hashtagged "#Miami."

Attempts to reach the players named in the report or their attorneys have been unsuccessful.

It's been a rough year for 49ers players off the field.

Chris Culliver is facing one felony charge and two misdemeanor charges after a March 30 hit-and-run involving a bicyclist in San Jose. The 25-year-old cornerback was charged with felony possession of brass knuckles, which carries up to a three-year prison sentence. He also was charged with misdemeanor hit-and-run with injury as well as misdemeanor hit-and-run, which have one-year maximum sentences.

All-Pro linebacker Aldon Smith was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and possession of marijuana in San Jose. In October, the 24-year-old was charged three felony weapons assault charges, stemming from a June 2012 house party he hosted. In September, he was charged with a DUI. In November, Smith pleaded not guilty.

Both Smith and Culliver, who are still under contract with the 49ers, are scheduled to make separate appearances in Santa Clara County court on Friday.
 

NBC Bay Area's Damian Trujillo and NBC 6 South Florida contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Padres-Tigers Preview]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 10:39:45 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/alexi-amarista.jpg

History buffs will love this weekend’s series at Petco Park. It’s a rematch of the 1984 World Series, as the Detroit Tigers come to town for the first time since 2008 for a three-game set.

You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone still in the game from that series, which the Tigers won four games to one. Both managers – Dick Williams of the Padres and Sparky Anderson of the Tigers – have moved on to the great ballpark in the sky. Each team has been back to the World Series since (Padres in ’98, Tigers in ’06 and ’12), but neither has won it.

For the Padres, the story remains the same: Somebody’s got to step  up and hit the ball. The team is 28th in the league in batting average (.209) and home runs (four) and 29th in runs scored (a mere 20 in nine games).

That’s not gonna get it done, especially against the Tigers, who have been to the American League Championship Series three straight years. But they are a much different team from years past, having traded away slugger Prince Fielder and picking up speedsters like Ian Kinsler and Rajai Davis. They still have a formidable pitching rotation, which the Padres will see in full force this weekend.

When they play: The series opens Friday night at 7:10 p.m., followed by a Saturday tilt at 5:40 p.m. The finale is Sunday at 1:10 p.m.

What’s at stake: The Padres just want to win a series. They’ve dropped two of three games in each of the first three matchups. This series begins a 10-game homestand where the Friars need to right the ship or risk falling too far behind the division leaders.

The Tigers did their best to help the Friars’ cause, splitting a pair of extra-inning nail biters with Los Angeles this week. They are heavy favorites to win the AL Central Division for the fourth straight year. Their 4-0 start was reminiscent of that ’84 season, when the team started a record 35-5 and ran away with the division. They’ve since lost two of three. But they haven’t lost a series all season, and head back to the Midwest after their set with the Padres for 10 straight home games at Comerica Park.

Who is pitching: The Padres throw their top three starters in the series, with Andrew Cashner (0-1, 2.25 ERA) starting Friday, followed by Ian Kennedy (1-1, 3.27) and Tyson Ross (0-2, 4.35). They’re going to need their A game as they battle a Detroit rotation that many consider the best in the league.

Friday starter Rick Porcello (1-0, 1.35) is probably the worst of the bunch, but has been lights out so far this season. Despite his struggles last year, Justin Verlander (0-1, 2.57) is an absolute horse, having won the Cy Young Award and AL MVP in 2011 and striking out at least 200 in five straight years. He takes the mound on Saturday, followed by 2013 AL Cy Young winner and 20-game winner Max Scherzer (0-0, 1.20).

Who to watch: The bats finally came alive for at least a few Padres while in Cleveland this week. Leadoff hitter Everth Cabrera had six hits and stole his first base in the series. Alexi Amarista is on a four-game hitting streak, raising his average to .333 on the season. Yasmani Grandal had a four-hit game on Monday, and leads the everyday players with a .368 average. … Now, if we could work on that power. Seth Smith hit homers in his first two at-bats with the squad. Since then, the rest of the lineup has a grand total of two long balls. Ouch.

For the Tigers, Torii Hunter is showing some much-needed power with three homers in his last four games. Austin Jackson is settling into his role in the bottom half of the order with 10 hits in seven games, including RBIs in each of the Dodgers games. But the lineup begins and ends with Miguel Cabrera, the MVP and Triple Crown winner from two years ago. He has struggled out of the gate, hitting just .286 with a single home run. Keeping him down will be the key to the series, as it’s only a matter of time before the superstar’s bat heats up.

Why go: Saturday’s game is the next giveaway night, as all fans will receive a Padres long sleeve t-shirt. On Sunday, players will sign autographs as part of Kids Fest. The team will also honor the military, wearing camouflage jerseys. Tickets are still available for all three games.

What’s next: This is the start of a 10-game homestand for the Friars. Up next is the Colorado Rockies for four games, followed by the division-leading San Francisco Giants in town for the weekend.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Franchitti to Join Long Beach Walk of Fame]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 07:49:07 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/145977223.jpg

Four-time IndyCar Series champ Dario Franchitti and two team owners will be inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame Thursday as event get underway before this weekend's racing.

Franchitti, who won the GPLB in 2009, and team owners Gerald Forsythe and Kevin Kalkhoven will be inducted into the Walk of Fame at 11 a.m. on South Pine Avenue in front of the Convention Center.

The event is free.

Franchitti started 11 races in Long Beach. He is the seventh on the list of all-time Indy Car race winners with 31 victories.

Franchitti announced his retirement in November following a violent crash in an IndyCar race in Houston. The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner suffered a spine injury and suffered a concussion.

Doctors advised it would be too dangerous to continue racing after the injuries.

Forsythe owned the 2003 and 2004 teams that helped Paul Tracy to victory. His team also have won four Atlantic Championship races in Long Beach and the 2003 CART series title.

Kalkhoven was the winning owner at the 2008 GPLB with driver Will Power. His team also captured the 2005 Atlantic Championship.

Kalkhoven and Forsythe teamed with Paul Gentilozzi to create the Champ Car World Series after CART's demise in 2003. Kalkhoven and Forstyhe purchased the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach in 2005.



Photo Credit: Getty Images for TMS]]>
<![CDATA[Niners Are Banking on Tank in 2014]]> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 14:15:58 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/173*120/thetankkk.jpg

After sitting out his entire rookie season, 49ers defensive lineman Cornelius “Tank” Carradine is eager to make some plays in 2014.

But the former Florida State standout isn’t counting 2013 as a wasted year. Far from it. Though he couldn’t play while recovering from a knee injury in his senior season with the Seminoles, Carradine was able to learn a lot from veterans Justin Smith and Ray McDonald, the 49ers’ defensive ends in San Francisco’s 3-4 scheme.

“I just tried to follow their lead,” Carradine recently told Taylor Price of 49ers.com. “Even though I wasn’t out there playing, I was able to pick it up mentally. I got to see how to be a pro by how they did things. Now I know how to prepare for practice, prepare in the offseason and get ready for camp and things like that.”

The addition of Carradine to the 49ers defense will be one of the team’s biggest additions this coming season. Carradine – who could spell both Smith and McDonald – will help give the 49ers a deep defensive line corps that also could include nose tackles Glenn Dorsey and Ian Williams, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Quinton Dial and Demarcus Dobbs.

Carradine, who had 16½ sacks in two seasons at Florida State, was considered one of the best pass rushers in the nation his senior season – and a probably first-round pick -- until his knee injury.

The 49ers were able to get him in the second round, and now it will be as if the team is getting a first-round pick to add to its defensive line rotation – and a possible successor to Smith whenever Smith decides to retire.

Carradine, who’s 6-foot-4 and 290 pounds, says he’s now fully healthy, and expects that his speed and quickness will allow him to put pressure on quarterbacks, even while rushing from an interior spot.

“I’m going to be able to show I’m a speed guy,” Carradine told Price. “It’s different because you’re taking more of a double (two blockers). It’s a little different but it’s something I can adjust to. I’ll be rushng on the inside more, but it gives me an advantage. You put a speed guy, who is a little bigger now, on a guard, it’s good for him to rush.”

Carradine had minor surgery in February to eliminate scar tissue that developed after his earlier knee surgery. Now, he says he’s completely healthy. And head coach Jim Harbaugh has seen a difference in him and is hoping for big things from Carradine.

 

“He looks like a different guy now since that procedure,” Harbaugh said recently. “Just with what we saw when he did practice with our football team and now this procedure that’s been done. I’m even more excited. I think he’s going to have a great offseason and look forward to his progress very, very much.

“Expectations will be very high.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Batkid Throws 1st Pitch, Draws Praise, Criticism ]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 10:41:23 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/batkid6.jpg

He won the hearts of San Francisco five months ago, when the city morphed into Gotham City to lift the spirits of a 5-year-old battling leukemia.

And Batkid still evoked strong emotions when he took the mound at the Giants home opener at AT&T Park on Tuesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The tiny superhero, aka Miles Scott of Siskyou County, threw the first pitch at the game, where the Giants were victorious, 7-3. An especially poignant image was when the little boy dressed all in black held hands with pitcher Matt Cain on the field.

Some took to social media to criticize all the attention Miles - who is remission from his cancer - is still getting. The city of San Francisco and 12,000 volunteers pitched in on Nov. 15 to make the boy's dream come true: Allowing him to be his favorite superhero for the day. But some believe that the boy's 15 minutes is up.

On NBC Bay Area's Facebook page, some posters were critical of all the attention he was getting. "There are plenty of other kids out there that could use support or even a couple hours of fun," one person wrote.

But it's also safe to say that Miles has become a symbol of hope for many, especially those in the cancer community, who see that the boy battled his disease.

"Omg!," a poster named Dana Hernandez wrote. "This was so cool! It gave me the chills."

And in a Wednesday morning interview on NBC Bay Area, Giants commentator Mike Krukow called the "blanket of love that everyone" threw Batkid's way, was just "amazing."

"It was the start of a perfect day,"Krukow said during his weekly segment "Kruk on Skype." "And Batkid had a lot to do with it."


Miles Scott, left, dressed as Batkid, throws the ceremonial first pitch next to Batman before an opening day baseball game between the San Francisco Giants and the Arizona Diamondbacks in San Francisco, Tuesday, April 8, 2014.  (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, Pool).



Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS]]>
<![CDATA[UMass Basketball Player Announces He's Gay]]> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 09:30:41 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ncaa_h3.jpg

UMass guard Derrick Gordon has become the first openly gay player in Division I men's basketball.

Gordon made the announcement in interviews with ESPN and Outsports on Wednesday. Gordon said he gained confidence by seeing an NBA team sign Jason Collins, who became the league's first openly gay player when he joined the Brooklyn Nets this season.

"I want to be myself," Gordon said in the interview televised on ESPN. "I don't want to hide and be someone I'm not."

The sophomore was the Minutemen's fourth-leading scorer with 9.4 points per game last season, when UMass reached the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998. A transfer from Western Kentucky, Gordon played at high school powerhouse St. Patrick in New Jersey.

In the Outsports interview, Gordon said he considered quitting basketball last fall and isolated himself from teammates because of teasing. Over the summer, he had "liked" a photo on Instagram of him and his then-boyfriend in front of gay bar.

"I just wanted to run and hide somewhere," he said. "I used to go back to my room and I'd just cry."

Gordon was also inspired by spending time with several gay people in the world of sports in March, according to the Outsports article, and decided to come out to his family and then the Minutemen.

Once he opened up to his teammates, they were encouraging. In the ESPN interview, he recalled that they told him: "We're going to support you no matter what."

Coach Derek Kellogg told ESPN that he could already see a newfound happiness in Gordon.

"I haven't felt like this. Ever," Gordon said in the Outsports interview. "It's a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders. I can finally breathe now and live life happily."

On Twitter on Wednesday, he expressed similar levels of relief at his decision, saying he is "the happiest I have ever been in my 22 Years of living."

Collins made a trailblazing announcement last April when he came out in an interview with Sports Illustrated. In February, he became the first openly gay male athlete in the four major North American pro sports leagues.

Michael Sam, an All-American defensive end at Missouri, came out in interviews with ESPN, The New York Times and Outsports in February after his college career ended. He is projected as a middle-round prospect in next month's NFL draft.

Sam tweeted congratulations to Gordon after the announcement: "You have so many in your corner and we're all proud and rooting for you."

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UConn Storms to 9th Title, Routing Notre Dame 79-58]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 20:59:18 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP576312210999.jpg

Geno Auriemma and Connecticut stand alone in women's college basketball, and they reached the top in unprecedented fashion.

The Huskies routed Notre Dame 79-58 Tuesday night in the first championship game featuring undefeated teams, winning their record ninth national title. Auriemma broke a tie with Pat Summitt and Tennessee for most all-time, doing it in her backyard.

Breanna Stewart, who was the AP's player of the year, scored 21 points to lead the Huskies (40-0) while Stefanie Dolson added 17 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists. Auriemma took out his senior center with a minute left, and the pair embraced in a long hug.

The victory also means that UConn is now the center of the college basketball world with both the men's and women's teams winning the championship in the same year again. The men's team beat Kentucky in the title game Monday night. This pair of victories come a decade after the Huskies became the only school to accomplish the feat.

While the names change at UConn, from Rebecca Lobo to Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore and now Stewart, Auriemma has been the constant, winning nine titles in only 20 seasons — including the last two. He's never lost in a national championship game.

"Congratulations to the UConn Huskies for winning the 2014 NCAA National Championship!," Summitt said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press. "My compliments also to coach Geno Auriemma for winning his ninth national title. He has accomplished this feat in record time."

It was the fifth unbeaten season for Auriemma and UConn and the first time the Huskies went 40-0 — matching Baylor as the only schools to accomplish that feat. The victory was also Connecticut's 46th straight dating back to last season's NCAA tournament title run. It's the third longest streak in school history — well short of the NCAA record 90 straight they won.

The loss was Notre Dame's third in the title game in the past four years. Kayla McBride finished off her stellar career with 21 points to lead the Irish, who were looking for their first championship since 2001.

After proving to be no challenge for the Huskies during the first 15 years of the rivalry which began in 1995, Notre Dame had owned the series lately, winning seven of the previous nine meetings. UConn though has won the last two, eliminating Notre Dame in the Final Four last season before topping them in the championship game this year.

The two former Big East rivals, who have no love lost for each other, put on a show in a game that women's basketball hoped could transcend the sport. The coaches added to the drama of the game with their verbal sparring on Monday. But it was Auriemma who got the last word again.

Even with the loss, it was a record-setting season for the Irish.

Notre Dame lost Skylar Diggins to graduation and changed conferences to the ACC. Neither mattered as they ran through their opponents, winning by an average of 25.6 points while taking both the conference regular season and tournament championships.

The Irish lost senior Natalie Achonwa to a torn ACL in the regional final win over Baylor. Notre Dame wore warmup shirts with Achonwa's nickname "Ace" below her No. 11.

The team played inspired basketball in the Final Four win over Maryland, outrebounding the Terps by a record margin. The Irish couldn't muster a similar effort against UConn and it's gigantic front line. Stewart, Stefanie Dolson and Kiah Stokes dominated the interior. The Huskies outrebounded the Irish 54-31 and held them to a season-low in points.

After the teams traded shots early on, Stewart fueled a 16-0 run as the Huskies, who have played stellar defense all season, held the Irish without a point for nearly five minutes. Stewart's lay-in with 11:02 left made it 22-8.

A minute later, Dolson had an acrobatic tip to Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis for another layup.

The Irish stayed in the first half by hot 3-point shooting by Michaela Mabrey and Jewell Loyd. Trailing 37-25 with 4:09 left in the first half, the pair sparked a 13-6 run, hitting three 3-pointers which brought the Irish faithful to their feet.

UConn led 45-38 at the half, shooting 57 percent from the field and having 16 assists on their 21 baskets.

The Huskies closed the door on any Irish comeback scoring 18 of the first 22 points in the second half to put the game away. Stewart and Dolson had 10 points during the burst.

 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Reasons for Padres Fans to Love Cleveland]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 11:52:58 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/cleveland+rocks.jpg

Apparently some Cleveland fans took a little offense to my preview of the Padres-Indians series. You guys didn't like when I said: “What’s worse than starting the season 2-4? How about going to Cleveland in early April?”

So, what did Cleveland do? It went out and rained all day Monday, postponing the first game of the series until this afternoon.

But I don’t want Clevelanders to think I’m hating on your town. In fact, I’m a big fan – just maybe not in April. No offense, but it was 82 and sunny here yesterday.

Anyway, let me extend an olive branch and offer up some reasons why we love your fair city.

-- Ron Burgundy ain’t got nothing on Drew Carey.

-- The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame … even if the only real rockers to come out of your town are Trent Reznor and the two guys from Guns ‘N Roses not named Axl or Slash. (Sorry, didn't mean to bring them up.)

-- Willie Mays Hayes. He runs like Mays, but he hits like ... well, you know.

-- John Rocker only pitched there for half a season.

-- LeBron James used to live there. Then he moved. But don’t feel bad. The Clippers used to live here. Then they moved too.

-- We have a lot of wildfires. But that’s nothing. You guys had a whole river catch fire.

-- You guys made the playoffs last year. For a game.

-- Halle Berry is a native. No really. We’re not even mad, we’re just impressed.

-- The Browns won the Super Bowl! Oh wait, that was the Ravens.

-- Cedar Point is the best amusement park in the country. And it doesn’t even have any whales.

-- The most awesome tourism video ever!

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Niners May Be Fine at Inside Linebacker, Even Without Bowman]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 12:37:02 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/168*120/willhoytee.jpg

The injury to the 49ers’ NaVorro Bowman puts a big question mark over his position at inside linebacker in 2014.

It’s projected that Bowman, the 49ers’ best defensive player in 2013, may be ready to play by midseason. But until then, how do the 49ers fill his position?

It’s possible that San Francisco will use one of its 11 draft picks to take an inside linebacker. There are plenty to choose from.

The top inside linebackers in the draft – C.J. Mosley of Alabama, Yawin Smallwood of Connecticut and Chris Borland of Wisconsin – will likely be long gone by the time the 49ers turn their attention to the position. With priorities at cornerback and wide receiver, it’s possible San Francisco could use three of its six picks among the top 100 on those positions.

Plus, once Bowman returns, he and Patrick Willis give the 49es the best pair of inside linebackers in the league, so is the position really a long-term priority? It wouldn’t seem to be.

So, the 49ers might eventually take an inside linebacker to use in the short term and groom as a long-term backup to Willis and Bowman. If that’s the case, inside linebackers such as Brock Coyle of Montana and Avery Williamson of Kentucky might still be available in the middle to late rounds.

But the argument could be made that even without Bowman, the 49ers don’t need to use a draft pick to add depth in his absence – and certainly not a high one.

Going into this season, the 49ers have veterans Michael Whilhoite, Dan Skuta and second-year player Nick Moody

Wilhoite filled in very capably for both Bowman and Willis in 2013, and could be a fine short-term fit in Bowman’s absence for the first half of 2014.

Plus, Moody, a sixth-round choice from Florida State in the 2013 draft, has shown promise. He played well on special teams as a rookie, and the former safety – converted to linebacker for his senior season – is known as a very physical tackler at 6-foot-1 and 236 pounds.

The 49ers drafted him in part because of his willingness to play special teams and his ability to make an impact. Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters that Moody is “one of the best (special teams players) we’ve seen at that in college football.”

Wilhoite, 6 feet and 240 pounds, played in all 16 games in 2013 – starting two -- and had 24 tackles. And Skuta, a veteran who can play outside, inside and special teams, has been a starter in his NFL career.

The 49ers may indeed take an inside linebacker in the mid to late rounds, but it’s unlikely that player would start ahead of Wilhoite. And, with Skuta and Moody on board, it’s possible San Francisco could decide to add a veteran free agent rather than draft a rookie. After the draft, there still should be some veterans available on the free-agent market.

 

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[For Raiders, More of Moore Will be a Good Thing]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 12:36:35 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/sio2ndyear.jpg

Critics can easily point to the things Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie has done wrong in his tenure in Oakland.

They can question his No. 1 draft pick in 2013 (cornerback D.J. Hayden) and his acquisition of quarterback Matt Flynn, for instance.

But one player McKenzie drafted in 2013, linebacker Sio Moore, has become one of the team’s building blocks. Based on his production as a rookie and the fact he could be surrounded by a much better cast in 2014, Moore could be due for a big second year.

Moore – who goes by the name MrOakTown55 on Twitter – was taken by McKenzie in the third round of the draft out of Connecticut and earned a spot in the starting lineup as the strongside outside linebacker. As a rookie he was the team’s eighth-leading tackler, with 55, and had 4½ sacks.

Though the team’s top two picks, Hayden and tackle Menelik Watson, made few contributions because of injuries, Moore made an impact from Day 1, and head coach Dennis Allen pointed to Moore, tight end Mychal Rivera and defensive tackle Stacy McGee as players who can be part of the foundation of the Raiders’ rebuilding process.

“Rookies generally don’t make a huge impact in their first year,” Allen told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group late in the 2013 season. “But there’s a lot of things we see in these guys that we can develop where they can be the backbone of our team moving forward.”

When the Raiders drafted Moore in the third round – the 66th selection of the 2013 draft – Moore raised some eyebrows my declaring that Oakland struck gold when it picked him.

“The Oakland Raiders got the best linebacker in the draft,” he told reporters. “I don’t care who went before.”

It’s possible the Raiders could draft an outside linebacker with the No. 5 overall pick in next month’s selection process – Khalil Mack of Buffalo has been linked to Oakland in some mock drafts in that spot – which would make the linebacking crew even better in 2014. But the starting trio of Moore and Kevin Burnett on the outside and Nick Roach in the middle will be back this coming season, and should be playing behind a much better defensive line, aided by the free-agent signings of Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley and Antonio Smith.

So far, Moore has done everything right. He was selected to the Pro Football Writers’ All-Rookie Team, impressed coaches and teammates with his work ethic and athleticism and has made an impact with community appearances.

This week, in fact, he visited a middle school in Fairfield and told students about the value of staying in school to reach their true potential.

“If you’re going to dream, you need to dream big. If you’re going to wish, wish big,” he told students. “Holding yourself back, you’re not allowing yourself to do so.”

Now, heading into his second season, Moore has a chance to fulfill the statement he made about the Raiders picking the best linebacker in the draft last season.

“You could say Moore more than impressed and solidified his standing as a building block for the franchise going forward,” wrote Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com, in evaluating Moore’s rookie season. “You could also make the case that Moore is the best draft pick in two drafts by general manager Reggie McKenzie thus far. Moore’s high motor served him well last season and should continue to do so in the future, so long as he does not get overly aggressive in chasing plays or picking up penalties.

“It will be interesting to see how his skill set translates if the Raiders show more 3-4 looks on defense, outside of their base 4-3 alignment.”

More Moore in 2014 and beyond could be a very good thing for the Raiders.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fans Feel "Giants Fever" on Home Opener Day]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 17:38:21 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/04-08-2014-batkid-front.jpg

Despite the sunny skies and perfect temperatures on Tuesday, many in San Francisco were suffering from an annual springtime ailment: Giants Fever.

The crowd went wild before the game even began: BatKid threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

A few hours before the Giants took on the Arizona Diamondback for their home opener at AT&T Park, fans were already lined up at the gate, champing at the bit.

Many had called in sick or blown off work.

"She called me in sick," a young Joe Broden told NBC Bay Area, pointing to his mom, Julie.

"He's got 'Giants Fever,' so he's going to be here," Julie Broden added.

Gary Daniels, who is normally at work on a regular week day, was not behind a desk on Tuesday. Instead, he was outside enjoying the weather and the crowds before noon, ready to hear the crack of a bat and smell the sweet whiff of cotton candy.

"Maybe this is the year we'll win it all," he said before the game.

Janet Clark brought a Giants-decorated tin filled with cheese and prosciutto. She said she would break out the wine at the fifth inning.

"I've gotta keep my game face on," she said.

The Giants are off to a strong start. The team enters Tuesday's home opener on top of the NL West, with a half-game lead over the Dodgers.

 

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<![CDATA[Tweet Strikes Nerve With #Tribe]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 07:32:23 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Cleveland-Indians-Tweets.jpg

A Twitter feud between NBC 7's main account and #OnFriar blog and Cleveland Indians #Tribe makes one wonder what did opponents of San Diego professional sports teams do before "Anchorman" coined its famous phrase? 

When a post on #NBC7's Twitter feed struck a little too close for Cleveland fans, there were a few gems amongst all the "stay classy" comments.

We wanted to share.

UPDATE: Monday's game was delayed due to weather. Blue skies and 90 degrees at Petco Park. #Justsayin

Check out the Storify here

 

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<![CDATA[UConn Wins NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship]]> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 22:35:12 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP399579783850.jpg The NCAA tournament is arguably the best stretch of weeks on the sports calendar, filled with great teams, exciting games, star players and, usually, plenty of upsets. Mixed in with all the action are some dramatic photos. Take a look at the best of the NCAA tournament in photos.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[NBC 7 Tweet Strikes Nerve with Tribe]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 07:30:47 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Cleveland-Indians-Tweet-Res.jpg NBC 7's Jim Laslavic talks about how a post on the NBC 7 main Twitter account launched a Twitter feud involving fans of the Cleveland Indians. Read how the Tribe reacted here]]> <![CDATA[Chargers React to "Draft Day"]]> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 08:33:04 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/draft-day.jpg This Friday, the movie "Draft Day" hits theaters. So, why is this one any different? Because the NFL is actually backing this one. NBC 7's Derek Togerson reports.

Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment]]>