The Cincinnati Reds decided to hire in-house to its open managerial position.The club’s front office announced the promotion of pitching coach Bryan Price to manager at a Tuesday press conference. News of the hire first surfaced Monday night on Twitter from Fox’s Ken Rosenthal.Reds General Manager and President of Baseball Operations Walt Jocketty said Tuesday that despite a long list of candidates, he and the rest of the front office did not interview anyone else for the job.“Once we had the meeting with Bryan, we saw no reason to go forward (with other candidates),” Jocketty said at the press conference.The club’s CEO, Bob Castellini, described Price as “exceptional,” and said if the Reds did not hire Price, he likely would be heading elsewhere.The two sides agreed to a three-year contract running through 2016.Price, the 61st manager in team history, steps in for Dusty Baker who was relieved of his duties Oct. 3 after the Reds lost six consecutive games to close out 2013, including the National League Wild Card Game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.Baker went 509-463 (.524) during his six seasons in Cincinnati; he took his team to the postseason in three of the past four years.Price has served as the Reds’ pitching coach since 2010. During the 2013 regular season, the Reds’ pitching staff owned the MLB’s fourth-best ERA and led the NL in strikeouts. The year before, Price’s repertoire of bullpen arms led the Majors in saves (56) and was fourth in ERA (3.34). The 2012 Reds’ starting pitchers became just the eighth rotation in MLB history with five pitchers making at least 30 starts each.Price, who has never managed at the professional level, pitched as high as AAA in the minor leagues and served as the pitching coach for both the Mariners’ (2000-2005) and Diamondbacks (2006-2009) before coming to Cincinnati.The San Francisco, Calif., native interviewed for the Miami Marlins’ managerial vacancy last offseason, and was rumored to be a possible candidate for the Seattle Mariners current opening at the position.Starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo, who becomes a free agent as soon as the World Series ends, told the Cincinnati Enquirer how he felt his former pitching coach would do as a replacement when news broke of Baker’s firing.“I think he’d be unbelievable,” Arroyo said. “He’s as organized as anyone in the game; he holds people as accountable as well as anyone I’ve seen. He doesn’t buy into stereotypical things in the game … Price looks at evidence. He’s a freaking smart guy, he makes his decision on reasonable evidence. Sometimes in baseball we go by hunches, what someone else said or the way things have gone in the past. He doesn’t do that.”According to a September article at mlb.com, Reds’ starting pitcher Homer Bailey also had positive things to say about Price’s ability to hold people accountable, an area some feel Baker struggled with.“We are held accountable,” Bailey said. “We demand certain things out of everyone here, whether you’re the No. 1 starter on the team or the mop-up guy, it doesn’t matter. Our expectations are held so high. Some things are just unacceptable. Our starters are expected to go seven innings. We are expected to keep our team in the game. We are expected to put up quality starts.”Price thanked Baker during Tuesday’s press conference, saying “he became a friend and confidant.”Jocketty said other coaching staff decisions for vacant roles have not yet been made.Price will join John Farrell of the Red Sox and the Padres’ Bud Black as the only active managers who were previously a pitching coach.
OSU junior H-back Curtis Samuel (4) celebrates as he scores a rushing touchdown in second overtime to win the game for the Buckeyes on Nov. 26 at Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes won 30-27. Credit: Mason Swires | Assistant Photo EditorAlthough the Ohio State football team will not be breaking records in the NFL Draft like it did last season, there are still eight former Buckeyes who are vying for the chance to play at the highest level in 2017. After the 2017 NFL Combine, a few of those players might be hearing their names called a little earlier after solid workouts. However, it isn’t positive for all OSU’s hopefuls.Center/Guard Pat ElfleinPrediction: Pick 114 (Washington Redskins)Pat Elflein’s switch to center worked well for the Pickerington, Ohio, native. A starter for 40 consecutive games and the indisputable anchor of the Buckeyes on the offensive line last season, Elflein mentored now-redshirt senior Billy Price, who will be following in his teammate’s footsteps next season by sliding over from guard to center.At the combine, Elflein looked leaner, with a more slim yet powerful frame. Even with a body that appeared much more in shape, Elflein managed just 22 reps, a rather low number for an offensive lineman.Elflein was not pleased.“It’s OK for right now,” he told the media. “But I’m going to do more at pro day.”While his stock might drop slightly because of less-than-stellar testing, Elflein is a workhorse who can bring a lot to an NFL franchise. Although he is known to have short arms for an interior lineman and lack some fundamental strength, he can still be a late steal.Wide receiver Curtis SamuelPrediction: Pick 37 (Los Angeles Rams)Curtis Samuel did not have the best hands last season, and had a habit of dropping passes. Regardless, Samuel entered the combine as a wide receiver rather than a running back, and showed off his most valuable skill: his speed.Samuel put in a blazing 4.31 40-yard dash time, the second best mark behind only John Ross of Washington, who ran an absurd 4.22 dash time. It was the fastest time of any Buckeye at the combine ever.It remains to be seen where Samuel actually ends up playing in the NFL. His 18 reps on bench press are a relatively high number for a wide receiver and predict his ability to create separation, but would also show his ability to bounce off tackles in the NFL as a running back.Regardless, Samuel earned himself quite a pay-bump with his quick feet.Linebacker Raekwon McMillanPrediction: Pick 53 (Detroit Lions)A leader in the middle of the OSU defense for three years, Raekwon McMillan is another example of a quality linebacker from Columbus. With more than 100 tackles in his senior season alone, McMillan showed his ability to be a reliable and formidable force in the middle on run defense. As a player who is wise beyond his years, McMillan’s ability to drop back in coverage and chase down ball carriers are the biggest questions ahead of the 2017 NFL Draft. One thing that can’t be questioned is the leadership of McMillan.“Everything we did on defense (at OSU) came through me,” he said. “I can do the same thing for their program. I’m never gonna give you a reason to let me go from the team, and I’ll always be a leader … never a follower.”With 23 reps on bench press, and a solid 4.61 time in the 40-yard dash, it seems strange that fans and coaches still question the ability of the Georgia native. Still, the combine is not an actual game. McMillan will be able to play at the next level, but will still have to prove himself at OSU’s pro day. Any team that takes a chance on him will likely benefit from one of the most intelligent and mature players in the draft, but that team might have to wait a year or two before he develops into a well-rounded middle linebacker.But when he is fully developed, McMillan could be one of the league’s best.Cornerback Marshon LattimorePrediction: Pick 12 (Cleveland Browns)Marshon Lattimore went through lingering hamstring injuries throughout his college career before having a stellar year in 2016, picking up four interceptions and returning one for a touchdown. And yet, every team still seemed hung up on his hamstring. Lattimore said he was asked multiple times about his hamstring, often with the question being the first thing asked.After an x-ray signaled he was fine, Lattimore reported injured his hamstring again, but he said it was hip flexor.Before the apparent injury, Lattimore ran a 4.36 40-yard dash, which showed his hamstring was in order (later ruined by reports of another injury). Lattimore has speed, and has the ability to play zone and press coverage, but his health is a major question mark. Still, Lattimore is confident.“At Ohio State, they prepare you the best, I feel like,” Lattimore said. “We perform in college, and then we perform in the league.”A team is going to take a shot at him in the first round, but the question is, who will be willing to take on the risk of a cornerback who can’t stay on the field?Punter Cameron Johnston Prediction: Pick 247 (Green Bay Packers)It’s hard to judge punters in combine testing. Most of what is known about a special teamer is established well before the combine.In Cameron Johnston’s case, he was one of three punters to run the 40-yard dash, and posted the slowest time among specialists of 4.92 seconds. This isn’t exactly an important stat for punters, but it’s worth noting.Johnston is a rugby-style punter who can really boot the ball deep, and could add a nice twist to a team looking for a proven player at the position. He won’t be taken off the board until late, if at all due to the fact he plays a position that is extremely undervalued. Safety Malik HookerPrediction: Pick 7 (Los Angeles Chargers)“The Freak” proved all doubters wrong in 2016 after coming into Columbus as a somewhat forgotten about three-star recruit. He dominated college football as a ball-hawking safety who could hit as hard as a linebacker. A powerfully built frame, and hands like a wide receiver, Malik Hooker is easily one of the top-10 best players in the entire draft. Offseason surgeries have limited his ability to show off his talent at the combine, but his draft stock has not fallen far.A sports hernia surgery and a procedure to repair a labrum in his hip have slowed Hooker temporarily, but he told reporters at the combine that he played through the injury during the Fiesta Bowl.“That was never a thought,” Hooker said. “Just because I put too much work in with those guys. It would be like I’m letting them down.”Hooker will still remain a top-10 selection in the draft, even though he will have to wait until rookie camp to actually contribute and work towards playing. Cornerback Gareon ConleyPrediction: Pick 31 (Atlanta Falcons)Gareon Conley is the man people forget from the OSU secondary in this draft, which is disappointing considering he is a quality player and one of the top cornerbacks in a cornerback-heavy class. He solidified that with a solid 4.44 40-yard dash time.In skills drills, Conley was right up there with the cornerbacks who were considered leaps ahead of him, and had a good enough showing to make him seem like a potential pick in the first half of the first round.This likely won’t happen for Conley, as teams have bought into the hype of his former teammates Lattimore and Alabama standout Marlon Humphrey. But his testing at the combine, paired with a career of success with the Buckeyes, shows how much Conley can bring to any team that selects him.Conley is projected to drop out of the first round, but that isn’t stopping him.“I don’t worry about it, but I try to motivate myself to get there,” he said. “I definitely want to be a first-round pick. Nobody doesn’t want to be a first-round pick, so I’m going to work as hard as I can to be a first-round pick.”His solid testing and positive attitude just might have gotten him there.Wide receiver Noah BrownPrediction: Pick 83 (Tennessee Titans)Noah Brown’s decision to leave OSU early was a surprise to many. He hopped on the hype train of players leaving after one solid year of production.Only problem, Brown’s numbers were not solid.With the exception of his absurd four-touchdown night against Oklahoma early in the season, Brown did not show much of anything to demonstrate he is going to make a difference in the NFL. The big-bodied receiver has the size to produce, but has far too many question marks to give him a clear distinction as a top-ranked wide receiver.Brown had a solid 19 reps on the bench press, but did not run the 40-yard dash, electing to wait until OSU’s pro day on March 23 to show off his speed. This draft is deep enough at receiver that Brown needed to wow in order to draw more interest. His body and strength alone have given him some consideration for teams desperate for wide receiver, but Brown could not have done himself any favors in the combine.
Ohio State then-junior guard Kelsey Mitchell drives to the basket and atttempts a layup against Purdue in the Big Ten tournament semifinal in Indianapolis on March 4. Credit: Ashley Nelson | Station ManagerThis season almost feels like destiny for Ohio State’s women’s basketball team. With senior guard Kelsey Mitchell, a two-time first-team All-American and two-time Big Ten Player of the Year, returning for her final season and a strong, veteran-laden supporting cast surrounding her, Ohio State seems poised to make a deep run in the 2018 NCAA tournament. Head coach Kevin McGuff’s first full recruiting class in Columbus is in its fourth year in the program. Columbus will be at the forefront of collegiate women’s basketball because it will host the Final Four. Ohio State also kicks the season off with a Countdown to Columbus event featuring some of the nation’s top teams, including Connecticut, Stanford and Louisville.Despite the talented senior class and top-two Big Ten finishes the past two seasons, the Buckeyes have fallen short of their goals as they have lost in the Sweet 16 in 2016 and 2017. “You get tired of the same thing happening,” Mitchell said. “I think we reached a point in our lives off the court and on the court where we’ve got to make a statement, we’ve got to do what’s needed to be done.”The seniors understand this is their last chance to break through, and McGuff said it is easier to coach a team with the sense of urgency the Buckeyes have this season.But when taking a step back and looking past this upcoming season, which holds great promise, one thing becomes clear — the future of Ohio State seems bleak, especially when compared to the talent on this year’s team.Ohio State’s roster consists of just nine players on scholarship. It returns seven players who have played significant minutes in prior seasons. Five of those players are either seniors or redshirt seniors. Only one player — sophomore guard Jensen Caretti — has more than two seasons of eligibility remaining. The Buckeyes did not add a single freshman or transfer this season. They only have one high-school prospect committed.The two most promising freshmen last year, forward Tori McCoy and guard Kiara Lewis, transferred to Marquette and Syracuse, respectively. McCoy averaged 8.1 points per game in 35 appearances and 10 starts, while Lewis averaged 6.7 points per game in 35 games and 15 starts. Tim McCoy, Tori’s father, told the News-Gazette Tori left Ohio State because she was unhappy and said his daughter “was miserable every day.”When asked what she want to achieve in her final season, Mitchell said it was simple — she just wants to be able to “play happy,” seeming to confirm the dissatisfaction of last year.“We’ve always been a team where if something goes wrong, our season just is in shatters,” Mitchell said. “That’s how it feels. I just want everybody to play, just play as free as possible. And I think that would take care of a lot of things, myself included.”Until three-star post Aaliyah Patty committed to Ohio State Oct. 12, the Buckeyes had not landed a commitment in 23 months. Including Patty, the Buckeyes will have three seniors, one junior and one freshman next season. McGuff expressed displeasure at the difficulty of landing recruits, despite having four open scholarships on the current roster and just four scholarship players returning for the 2018-19 season. “In theory, it should be easier, but people want to play,” McGuff said. “But then all of a sudden you get, ‘Who am I going to play with?’ You get all these questions, it’s different. Everybody wants to play on a great team, but play right away. It’s like, eh, those things don’t always go hand in hand. If there’s opportunity, then you can play right away and then maybe that, the group you come in with evolves into a great time, sort of like the people we have now that are seniors.”McGuff was hired in 2013 to replace Jim Foster, whose teams did not reach the Elite 8 in his 11 seasons at Ohio State, despite the Buckeyes making the NCAA tournament in his first 10 seasons at the helm.But McGuff’s teams have had similar issues. The Buckeyes missed the tournament his first year, made the second round in 2015 and reached the Sweet Sixteen the past two seasons. The Buckeyes have shown no challenges reaching the tournament, but the inability to advance further in the postseason has plagued the team through the past two coaching tenures.With the loss of five seniors after this season, minimal talent returning next year and a talented, yet small group of upperclassmen in their final season, the time to strike is now.Ohio State has not made it to the Final Four since 1993, and if the Buckeyes do not make it this season, it could be a long time until they reach this level again.“Three years, we’ve fell short and we can’t keep having that being an excuse,” Mitchell said. “We’re either gonna get it or we’re not, and I think we have a team right now where as long as we keep going, we can make something happen.”