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Kerry Eggers on Sports/Portland Tribune/Heimlich pitching in Mexical League; Barney ponders baseball comeback

PMG FILE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - BRIAN GRANTA look at the local sports scene. ...

• Brian Grant returned to his West Linn home last week after spending six months in Miami, where he worked out with renowned celebrity trainer Dodd Romero.

The former Trail Blazers forward, who has dealt with Parkinson's disease for the past decade, visited his neurologist after his return home.

"He can't believe how well I'm doing," said Grant, 46. "I haven't regressed, which is a good thing."

The 6-9 Grant's attempt at weight loss "is still a work in progress," he said. He is tipping the scales at about 300 pounds, "which is too much," he said.

Grant didn't get as much time as he'd hoped with Romero, who works with the likes of Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez, among others.

"I was hoping to get with him six days a week, but it was more like two or three days a week," Grant said. "I'll still go back down there and do a week here and there with him, but I'm basing back here in Portland."

Part of the reason for that is he missed his children, including Jaydon, a redshirt sophomore defensive back at Oregon State, and Maliah, a senior at West Linn High.

"Seems like Jaydon has gained the trust of the coaches," his father said. "Looks like he'll play a lot if he can stay healthy. It's Maliah's last year in high school, and she's on the dance squad. I just didn't want to miss any of all that. I'd really regret it if I did."

• Former Oregon State pitcher Luke Heimlich has had a reasonably successful rookie season in pro ball in the Mexican League.

Pitching for Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos, the 23-year-old left-hander was 8-7 in 21 starts in the hitting-dominated league, considered at or near the Triple-A level.

Heimlich, who yielded 141 hits with 39 walks in 118 innings, was eighth in the league in ERA (4.58) and ninth in strikeouts (109) on a team that went 27-32 and did not make the playoffs.

Heimlich, the national pitcher of the year in 2018 for the Beavers, is expected to play this winter for the Caneros de Los Mochis in the Mexican Pacific League.

• Another ex-Beaver baseball star, Darwin Barney, spent the summer playing in a 30-and-over league in the Portland area, kindling the idea of a comeback in pro ball.

"It felt good, and I played pretty well," said Barney, 33, who last played for the Toronto Blue Jays during the 2017 season, hitting .232 in 129 games. "I've been thinking about playing again, but I'm leaning more toward doing something on the coaching side."

Barney, a Gold Glove winner at second base for the Chicago Cubs in 2012, would likely require minor elbow surgery in order to make a return. He said he's not sure it's worth going through a rehab situation.

The Southridge High grad, who now lives in Lake Oswego with wife Lindsay and their three daughters, was on the committee that interviewed Mitch Canham, who was hired as Oregon State's head baseball coach. Canham and Barney were teammates at OSU, helping the Beavers to back-to-back national championships.

Barney said he and Canham "had some conversations" about Barney joining his coaching staff, "but I didn't the time was right for me to do something like that. I'm totally satisfied with the staff Mitch chose. They're going to do an outstanding job."

Barney would prefer to coach at the professional level. He said he has spoken with representatives of some major-league clubs, with an eye at hooking on in some capacity for next season.

"We'll keep the family in Portland — this is home for us," Barney said. "But it's time for me to get back in the game. I'd love to pursue managing some day. That would be ideal."

The 5-9 Barney was a student of the game, a guy who surprised people with his savvy and ability to achieve great things at every level through his playing career despite his diminutive size. No reason why he couldn't have the same kind of success in coaching.

• Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said recently that there are too many men in power in women's basketball, and that she'll never hire another man to her coaching staff. I asked Oregon coach Kelly Graves — who has two males among his three assistants — for his reaction.

"Everybody has their opinion, but I don't think you should exclude anybody any time for anything," said Graves, who then mentioned a group of women's coaches who have recently gained job in the NBA. "I'm glad for Lindsay Gottlieb (California, Cleveland Cavaliers), Kara Lawson (former player, broadcaster, Boston Celtics), Jenny Boucek (WNBA coach, Dallas) and Becky Hammon at San Antonio.

"Hopefully, there comes a day when people don't care what gender you are," Graves told me. "To me, it comes down to credibility and ability. My coaches are really talented. It's unfortunate that we still have to worry about that sort of thing. Hopefully, with these walls breaking down in the NBA, we'll realize that men can coach women and women can coach men."

•┬áThe ninth annual Maurice Lucas Celebration dinner, auction and after-party is set for Sept. 7 at the Hilton Portland Downtown.

Proceeds from the event are dispersed through the Maurice Lucas Foundation to educational retreats and an after-school program for underserved youths. Last year, the event — named for the late former Trail Blazers great and spearheaded by Davis Lucas, Maurice's son and a former Oregon State standout — raised $730,000 through its dinner and silent and live auctions.

Former Blazers Bill Walton, Lionel Hollins, Bob Gross, Lloyd Neal and Terry Porter, along with coach Terry Stotts and broadcasting legend Bill Schonely, are expected to attend.

"It's going to be the biggest red carpet event of the year in Portland," David Lucas said. "It's going to be fun, and we're going to raise a lot of money for a very good cause."

For information go to ml20.org.

• Portland's David Jacobsen is most well-known as 1) the older brother of pro golfer Peter Jacobsen and 2) one of the finest senior amateur golfers in the area.

David has parlayed that, along with his record of 35 years of volunteerism with the USGA, into a role as starter for the U.S. Senior Open. He performed the duty for the fourth straight year this summer at South Bend, Indiana.

"Great fun, and an incredible honor to stand at the tee and introduce the players of my era," Jacobsen said, adding jokingly, "I'm not sure how I got to do it. It may be that they said, 'He can't play anymore; we'll have him as a starter.' "

Jacobsen already is penciled in as the starter for the 2020 U.S. Senior Open at Newport, Rhode Island.

• The Corvallis Knights are setting a pretty good standard for what good summer wood-bat baseball is all about.

The Knights went 54-14 and recently won the West Coast League championship for the fourth straight year, earning Perfect Game's National Collegiate Team of the Year honors.

The 12-team WCL — with teams in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia — features some of the top college players on the West Coast.

Coach Brooke Knight's son, Briley — a center fielder and sophomore-to-be at Utah — was named the league's Most Valuable Player (the team is not named after the Knights, rather, for benefactor Penny Knight, Phil's wife). Corvallis pitcher Tevita Gerber, who plays for Dixie State in St. George, Utah, was the WCL Pitcher of the Year. And Corvallis shortstop Brooks Lee, headed for Cal Poly, was honored with the league's Top Prospect Award.

Brooke Knight earned his sixth Coach of the Year award in guiding the Knights to their seventh WCL title since 2008. The New England Patriots should be so dominant.

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