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Saturday, March 23, 2019

Stories by Larry Brown:

Pablo Sandoval’s roster spot with Giants in jeopardy

Pablo Sandoval

Pablo Sandoval’s future with the San Francisco Giants seems to be in question after the team’s latest move.

The Giants on Thursday acquired utility man Connor Joe from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for pitcher Jordan Johnson. San Francisco DFAd Drew Ferguson to make room on the 40-man roster for Joe.

Joe is versatile and has experience playing first, third, and the outfield during his minor league career. A guy who could play the corners was the role Sandoval was fighting for, so having Joe around, who as a bonus can play the outfield, could mean Sandoval has no spot.

Carrying eight relievers, plus five starting pitchers and eight starting position players leaves the Giants with only four bench spots. They need a backup catcher for one, a fourth outfielder for another, leaving them two more spots. They probably want a guy who can play middle infield for one of the other bench spots, leaving just one more spot left. If it’s between Sandoval and Joe, Sandoval’s ability to play catcher is a plus, but Joe being better as an outfielder might be more useful.

We’ll see how things play out, but things are looking shaky for the guy who once signed a 5-year, $95 million deal with the Red Sox.

UCLA soccer coach Jorge Salcedo resigns amid admissions scandal

UCLA Bruins logo

UCLA men’s soccer coach Jorge Salcedo has resigned from his position over his involvement in a college admissions scandal.

Salcedo was put on leave last week after being arrested on federal racketeering charges for his role in the scandal.

Salcedo is accused of accepting a $200,000 in bribes to help two students gain admission into UCLA by saying they were recruited members of the soccer team even though they were not soccer players.

Being a recruited athlete was a “side door” Rick Singer often used to help the children of his clients gain admission into elite schools because the standards for athletes are often lower than for regular students. He allegedly exploited this scenario by falsifying a profile for Lauren Isackson that suggested she was a soccer player. Isackson was given a spot on the UCLA women’s team in 2017. Salcedo is accused of accepting a bribe to do the same for a male student.

Salcedo, 46, played soccer at UCLA from 1990-93. He played in MLS and earned a few caps for the US men’s national team. He has been the UCLA head coach since 2004.

Ja Morant sends awesome tweet after monster game

Ja Morant

Ja Morant made a statement in Murray State’s first round game against Marquette on Thursday, and his message afterwards was even better.

Morant had 17 points, 11 rebounds and 16 assists in Murray State’s 83-64 beatdown of Marquette. It was the first triple-double in the NCAA Tournament since Draymond Green in 2012.

Amid all the hype and adulation following his stellar performance, Morant let everyone know he’s not done yet.

You have to love that kind of attitude and focus. His next time out will be on Saturday against Florida State, the No. 4 seed in the West region. Morant will have his work cut out for himself in that one.

Brewers’ Corey Knebel headed for second opinion on damaged UCL

Milwaukee Brewers logo

Milwaukee Brewers reliever Corey Knebel is headed for a second opinion on his elbow as he deals with a damaged UCL.

Knebel took a break from throwing this week due to elbow problems. The Brewers acknowledged on Thursday that there was an issue with the All-Star closer/reliever.

Manager Craig Counsell said Knebel had been pitching with the issue for a long time and will go for a second opinion.

Brewers GM David Stearns said Knebel has a damaged UCL.

In addition to the elbow problems Knebel is facing, Jeremy Jeffress is dealing with a shoulder injury. The combination of the two relievers being hurt explains the team’s interest in Craig Kimbrel.

Red Sox’s Dombrowski knows team is poised to lose key players

Dave Dombrowski green tie

The 2018 Boston Red Sox proved to be one of the best teams in recent MLB history, but their ability to keep all their top players together for the future is in doubt.

Team executive Dave Dombrowski acknowledged that the Red Sox won’t be able to keep all their stars beyond this season or next when they’re eligible for free agency. That list includes Xander Bogaerts, Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, and potentially JD Martinez

The team’s long-term payroll commitments are to David Price, who is signed through 2022; Dustin Pedroia, who is signed through 2021; and postseason hero Nathan Eovaldi, who was just signed for $17 million per season through 2022. They will have money to spend on players, but they will have to pick and choose because keeping everyone would just get outrageous cost-wise.

One of the big questions is what JD Martinez will do. He signed a 5-year, $110 million deal with the team last year but can opt out after 2019, 2020 or 2021. He’s set to make $23.75 million this season and next and under contract for $19.35 million in 2021 and 2022. Boston hopes he will remain with the team after he played so well last season.

As if the thought of Bogaerts, Sale, Porcello and Martinez hitting free agency after this season weren’t already hard enough for Sox fans to stomach, Mookie Betts is set to become a free agent after 2020 and does not seem willing to sign a long-term contract before then.

Sox fans better enjoy the stacked team while they can before everyone gets too expensive and the roster changes.

Watch: Ja Morant dunks all over Marquette

Ja Morant dunk

Ja Morant didn’t quite pull a Vince Carter, but he wasn’t far off.

Morant had a monster game in Murray State’s first round matchup against Marquette in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday, dominating across the board. His most emphatic play came when he dunked all over Joey Hauser early in the second half:

Morant recorded a triple-double in the game — the first in the NCAA Tournament since Draymond Green in 2012.

We knew he was a big-time player, but what’s impressive is that he showed up and did his best on the biggest stage.

Superfan Jimmy Goldstein happy about Lakers’ struggles

Jimmy Goldstein

One of the most prominent attendees of Los Angeles Lakers games is actually happy about the team’s struggles. Who knew?

Jimmy Goldstein, the superfan known throughout the league for wearing flashy clothes while sitting courtside at major games, told the Los Angeles Times’ Arash Markazi that he is reveling in the Lakers issues.

“I have to chuckle over the Lakers’ problems, missing the playoffs six years in a row and not even finishing close to .500,” Goldstein told Markazi. “The Lakers fans deserve it.”

Goldstein told Markazi that he is a transplant who moved to Los Angeles and did not see a reason to become a Lakers fan considering he’d never rooted for them before. He also says he likes to root for the underdog and feels the Lakers have a major advantage over small-city teams, so it’s nice for him when things don’t work out perfectly for them — something that didn’t sit well with Kobe Bryant.

The Lakers will miss the playoffs for the sixth straight season despite signing LeBron James over the offseason.

This seems like a bizarre attitude to hold for a man who lives in Los Angeles and attends every Lakers and Clippers home game. He says he goes to watch basketball because he likes it and he just roots against the Lakers at their games. Goldstein is also a prominent figure during playoff time as he travels from city to city during the first few rounds to catch a different game each night and attends every NBA Finals game.

Marcus Smart fined $50,000 for shoving Joel Embiid

Marcus Smart

The NBA is sending a message to Marcus Smart.

The league fined Smart $50,000 for shoving Joel Embiid in the third quarter of Wednesday’s Boston Celtics-Philadelphia 76ers game. Smart was hit with a flagrant 2 foul resulting in an automatic ejection.

The league said the hefty fine was due to Smart’s history of repeated acts of unsportsmanlike conduct.

Smart was fined $25,000 for an altercation with JR Smith in October. He was fined $35,000 for an incident with DeAndre’ Bembry in January.

The next step in discipline might involve a suspension.