Phillies Sign Hamels to Three-Year Deal

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

Cole Hamels has about everything an ace pitcher could want after only three years in the major leagues.

The Phillies left-hander was the MVP of the World Series, he's
earned a reputation as a big-game pitcher, he's been an All-Star
and he's married to a former Playboy playmate.

Now, Hamels has a hefty three-year, $20.5 million contract to go
with the championship he's still savoring.

While the Phillies partied with a parade, Hamels planned a
low-key celebration.

"I'm not going to Vegas any time soon," Hamels said on Sunday.

He could afford the trip and even a seat at the high-rollers
table.

Hamels still has one goal ahead of him: He wants to show
Philadelphia his history of injures are really behind him.

"It's not something I've necessarily been blessed with over the
past couple of years, but I think this is where I've finally I've
been able to get over that hump," Hamels said. "Knowing I can go
through a full season and what it's like on my body, physically and
mentally, I think that challenge is over."

The deal avoids an arbitration hearing and keeps the 25-year-old
Hamels in Philadelphia through the 2011 season. Hamels went 4-0 in
the postseason with a 1.80 ERA as the Phillies claimed their first
championship since 1980. He won the first game in three playoff
series and took the MVP award in the NL championship series against
the Dodgers.

Hamels, who lives in Philadelphia year round, said he still gets
goosebumps every time he watches the World Series highlights video
and believes the roster is still good enough to contend for years.

"If I'm able to go out there and repeat, I think it's just
going to make it a really nice, sweet time for this baseball
city," Hamels said.

He was plagued by injuries in his minor-league career and spent
parts of the 2006 and 2007 season on the disabled list. This year,
Hamels went 14-10 with two shutouts a 3.09 ERA during the regular
season He made 33 starts and pitched a career-high 227 1-3 innings,
finishing with 196 strikeouts and 53 walks.

When the Phillies renewed his contract before the start of the
'08 season, Hamels criticized the organization for not rewarding
him for a solid second season. He was glad to put aside the
often-contentious arbitration hearings behind him and focus on
baseball.

"I know what I'm able to do out on the baseball field and
that's all I want to do," Hamels said. "The business side, it's
so confusing. There's a reason I didn't go to college."

Hamels will still be arbitration-eligible at the end of his
contract.

"That was one of the appealing things about it, that we will
get another opportunity to talk to Cole and his representatives
about keeping him for even longer period of time," assistant
general manager Scott Proefrock said.

Hamels was born in San Diego and grew up rooting for Tony Gwynn,
the Hall of Fame batting champion who spent his entire 20-year with
the Padres. Hamels said he'd like to be linked to the Phillies for
his entire career the same way Gwynn is only associated with the
Padres.

"Sometimes players don't necessarily want to be out on the open
market," Hamels said.

Hamels was a first-round pick in 2002. He made his major league
debut in 2006 and led the team with 15 wins in his first full
season in 2007.

"It just goes to show you how much Cole's improved the last
three years and what the organization thinks of him," said
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. "From a manager's standpoint, it
makes me feel real good to know we've got him for three more
years."

Phillies players remaining in arbitration are first baseman Ryan
Howard, outfielders Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth and
right-handers Joe Blanton, Chad Durbin and Ryan Madson. Those who
don't settle by Tuesday will exchange figures with the club, and
hearings are to take place next month.


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