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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Stories by Grey Papke:

Mark Richt does not plan to return to coaching

Mark Richt Miami

Mark Richt abruptly stepped down as Miami’s coach at the end of last season, and at least as it stands, that will be his last job.

Richt announced Saturday that he was joining the ACC Network as an analyst, and said that it was “not in the plans” to return to coaching in the future.

“I’m really excited about this ACC Network opportunity,” Richt said, via Andrea Adelson of ESPN. “And I think I can help the fans enjoy the game more and understand the game more and it allows me to keep staying involved with this game of football. And it also gives me time to see our grandchildren more and our own children. So right now, I’m mostly focused on that.”

The door is always going to be open for him to change his mind. However, Richt has already started picking up TV work, and he sounds done. It’s a bit surprising, as he’s only 59 years old.

Cubs slow down Brandon Morrow after setback

Chicago Cubs logo

Chicago Cubs reliever Brandon Morrow is trying to work his way back from offseason elbow surgery, but it appears to be slow going.

According to Cubs manager Joe Maddon, Morrow experienced some fresh discomfort, and the team is slowing things down with him at this time.

The Cubs got 35 games out of Morrow last season, and he posted a 1.47 ERA. A biceps issue shut him down in July and wound up ending his season, and he has not pitched since. The elbow issue was cleaned up in the offseason and it was hoped that he’d be back sometime in early May, but that does not appear likely at this point.

Indians designate Hanley Ramirez for assignment

Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez’s tenure with the Cleveland Indians looks to be a short one.

The Indians activated shortstop Francisco Lindor from the injured list on Saturday. As the corresponding move, the team designated Ramirez for assignment, likely ending his time with the organization.

Ramirez appeared in 16 games for Cleveland after making the team out of spring training. He hit just .184 with two home runs in that span, and the 35-year-old’s bat simply didn’t look like it belonged in a regular role anymore. A team may pick him up on reputation with the hopes of catching lightning in a bottle, but Ramirez’s best days are clearly behind him, and it doesn’t look like he has a ton left in his bat.

Jacob deGrom may not need MRI on elbow

Jacob deGrom

The prognosis on New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom may be a bit better than previously thought.

deGrom was spotted playing catch in the outfield on Saturday despite an elbow that was bothering him the day before. He was previously set for an MRI, but according to manager Mickey Callaway, that may no longer even be necessary.

Anytime you hear about a pitcher going in for an MRI after experiencing elbow soreness, as we did Friday, you tend to worry about the worst. However, it simply doesn’t appear that deGrom’s elbow issues are that serious, and that’s great news for both the Mets and their prize arm.

Are Phoenix Suns hoping to land Ja Morant in NBA Draft?

Ja Morant

The Phoenix Suns are one of a handful of teams with a reasonably good chance of landing the top overall pick in the NBA Draft lottery, and it’s widely assumed that whoever does land that pick will immediately make Zion Williamson a franchise cornerstone. There is one team, however, that may ultimately be tempted to put a different name at the top of their draft board.

According to Sam Vecenie of The Athletic, NBA sources believe the Suns would ultimately prefer to land Murray State guard Ja Morant instead of Williamson. New general manager James Jones is thought to be a fan of Morant, and the team has a clear need at point guard.

Vecenie is skeptical that the Suns would take Morant over Williamson if they land the first overall pick, which they have a 14 percent chance of landing. It’s reason to believe, however, that they might not be crushed if they wind up at No. 2. Any lower than that and it seems possible, if not likely, that Morant’s name will be called before Phoenix can make its selection.

Recall that the Suns had trade interest in another young point guard earlier this season. It’s obviously a position of need for them, and if the lottery is kind to them, Morant would certainly fit the bill.

Jacob deGrom returning to New York for MRI on elbow

Jacob deGrom

It may end up being nothing serious, but the New York Mets are a little bit worried about their ace pitcher.

Mets manager Mickey Callaway announced Friday that pitcher Jacob deGrom is returning to New York for an MRI on his elbow, which was characterized as “barking” after playing catch.

deGrom simply has not looked like himself in his last two starts. The Minnesota Twins hit three home runs off him while putting up six runs in four innings, followed by the Atlanta Braves putting up three runs in five innings with two home runs of their own.

deGrom signed a big new contract just before the start of the season. They’ll be desperately hoping this is a minor thing and not the sign of something more serious.

Top recruit Matthew Hurt commits to Duke

Duke logo

The Duke Blue Devils are loading up with another top recruiting class for 2019-20.

Consensus top-10 recruit Matthew Hurt announced his commitment to Duke on Friday. Combined with the incoming Vernon Carey and Wendell Moore, it likely ensures that the Blue Devils will once again have the top-rated recruiting class in the sport.

Mike Krzyzewski has copied the John Calipari model and has essentially made Duke a machine in recruiting likely one-and-done players. There will be questions about whether Coach K can consistently win with freshman-heavy teams, but these arrivals, combined with a prominent returnee, will ensure that Duke is in the national title conversation again next year.

Report: Jets are ‘determined’ to trade down in draft

Jets logo

The New York Jets hold the third pick in the NFL Draft, but it certainly doesn’t sound like they intend to use it.

According to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, the Jets appear “determined” to move down from No. 3. The team’s goal is believed to be to at least recoup the second-round pick they gave up last year when they traded up to select quarterback Sam Darnold.

“They seem to really, really want to move down,” one NFL executive told Vacchiano. “Maybe they’re just keeping their options open, but it sure seems like that No. 3 pick is for sale.”

General manager Mike Maccagnan has made no secret of the fact that the Jets are ready and willing to discuss trading down. Judging by this report, it sounds like they may be downright eager to do it, and they could be very active leading up to the draft.