Cole Hamels is now a very, very, very rich man

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Cole Hamels is now a very, very, very rich man

From Comcast SportsNet
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Cole Hamels and the Philadelphia Phillies have agreed to a 144 million, six-year contract that prevents the 2008 World Series MVP from becoming a free agent after the season. The deal includes a club vesting option for 2019 and a limited no-trade provision, the team announced Wednesday in a statement. A news conference is scheduled for noon before the game against Milwaukee. It's the largest contract signed by a Philadelphia athlete and second-highest for a pitcher behind the 161 million deal the New York Yankees gave CC Sabathia in December 2008. The deal was originally reported by FOXSports.com. The 28-year-old Hamels becomes the third Phillies starter making 20 million per season, joining Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. A three-time All-Star, Hamels passed up an opportunity to possibly get more money on the open market to stay with the team that drafted him in 2002. The lanky lefty is 11-4 with a 3.23 ERA this season. He's 85-58 with a 3.38 ERA in seven years in Philadelphia. Hamels has never won more than 15 games in a season, and his 2.79 ERA in 2011 was the only time he was under 3.06. Hamels reached the majors in 2006 after battling injuries in the minors. He went 15-5 with a 3.39 ERA in his first full season in 2007, establishing himself as the team's ace and helping the Phillies win the first of five consecutive NL East titles. He was the team's ace in 08 when he went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five postseason starts. Hamels was MVP of the NLCS against Los Angeles and helped the Phillies beat Tampa Bay in five games for their second World Series title in franchise history. Hamels struggled in 2009. He was just 10-11 with a 4.32 ERA that year, and pitched poorly in the postseason as the Phillies tried for a repeat. Hamels was passed over for veteran Pedro Martinez to start Game 2 of the World Series at hostile Yankee Stadium. Hamels then blew a 3-0 lead in a pivotal loss in Game 3, and New York took the series in six games. Following the additions of Halladay and Lee, Hamels went from ace to No. 3 starter. He began 2011 as the No. 4 starter behind Halladay, Lee and Roy Oswalt. There's no doubt that Hamels is the team's best pitcher this season -- and now richest, too. Halladay is 4-5 and Lee is 1-6.

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Josh Norman on increased attention: When you get a deal like that, everything’s magnified

Josh Norman on increased attention: When you get a deal like that, everything’s magnified

ASHBURN - Things turned upside down for Josh Norman this summer, and as the coverage surrounding his every word increases, the new Redskins cornerback knows what to expect. The latest batch of bulletin board material came from an ESPN the Magazine article in which Norman proclaimed, among other things, that he's the best corner in the league. Asked about those comments on Tuesday, Norman did not want to discuss it.

"I’m not about to answer any questions about it right now," Norman said in a media scrum. "I think at a later date those questions will be asked, but right now something that was done five months ago, I really don’t feel like talking about after our practice today."

Though Norman didn't comment on the specifics in the article, the conversation turned around to the new spotlight the Redskins $75 million player lives under.

"When you get a deal like that, everything comes with it," he said. "Everything’s magnified times 10."

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Norman explained that for his whole career - from a late-round draft pick to a backup to an All-Pro - he always felt like he had to earn his spot, though that role has changed.

"Once I was the underdog and I had to fight my way up to the top. I had to like drive, drive, drive, drive and continue to work hard and do everything that I’ve gotten to this point. But now, I’m no longer the underdog. Now I’m no longer that person. Now I am the guy that has to take on a new face, has to take on a new mask and be somebody that is always going to be the standard."

Changing roles will not be too much for Norman to handle.

"That’s something that I haven’t experienced yet and now taking that challenge and looking at it, I want to do it in a way I want to do it and not no way nobody else wants to make me do it. I think that, in an aspect, I just have to grow in that field, which I will. Those things come and I just got to understand that, but still have that dog when you’re on the football field."

Norman said that his faith helps him handle challenges, and pushes him to get through tough times.

"I can take it. I can go and use it and use it as another tool to try to find myself as a person and as an individual player to come in and bring something different. I think if I can have that unique set of tools and skills to be able to fend off everything that people say, I can take it. I can take it and continue to be successful."

For Redskins fans, as long as Norman is successful on the field, the headlines and increased exposure will be fun distractions. 

"I can take it. I’m a big boy. I got some big shoes. We’ll be having fun with it and enjoying our teammates that’s on the team now."

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Redskins RB Matt Jones on shoulder rehab: I'm making big strides

Redskins RB Matt Jones on shoulder rehab: I'm making big strides

ASHBURN - When Matt Jones left last Friday's preseason game against the Jets with a shoulder injury, Redskins fans were near panic mode. Washington's running back unit looks quite thin behind Jones, so the consternation made sense, though nerves calmed some when the prognosis for the running back did not seem too worrisome.

On Tuesday, Jones worked off to the side at Redskins practice with other injured players, rehabbing from the sprained AC joint in his left shoulder. Interestingly, the work Jones put in with trainers seemed more focused on his legs than his shoulder, which Jones explained as a way to keep his legs strong when he's not taking reps with the first team offense. More importantly, Jones feels like his injury is moving along quickly.

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"It's feeling pretty good. I'm moving fast in my healing process right now," Jones said. "I'm taking big strides."

Asked if his goal was to be back for the Redskins regular season opener against the Steelers on September 12, Jones replied "definitely."

Sitting at his locker, Jones did not have a sling holding his left arm or look to be in any noticeable discomfort. A rookie last year, Jones rushed for 490 yards on 144 attempts, good for just a 3.4 yards-per-carry average. Washington coach Jay Gruden will need more than that this fall if the team is to improve a rather dull run game last season. Jones knows the expectations are increased, and he's working hard to deliver.

"I just keep taking my practice reps like the game reps. I'm just going to keep that preparation going," he said. 

Before the injury against New York, Jones carried the ball well, running seven times for 31 yards, an average of a full yard more than last season. That's the Jones the coach wants to see, and it looks like the shoulder injury shouldn't be too much of an impediment.

"I don’t feel like it’s a setback at all," he said. "I'm actually moving, running around a little bit. It's starting to feel better and better each and every day. I'm just going day by day."

 

 

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Wizards' John Wall, Bradley Beal must put aside 'tendency to dislike each other on the court'

Wizards' John Wall, Bradley Beal must put aside 'tendency to dislike each other on the court'

The high temperatures outside the arena at Las Vegas summer league, where John Wall sat courtside to watch the Wizards play, were punishing.

Bradley Beal walked in with his girlfriend, fresh off agreeing to $128 million max contract, and when he sat down there was a gulf of unfilled chairs between the two.

The two self-described "cornerstones" of the Wizards couldn't have been farther away from each other.

It's no secret that the Wizards' future -- and two best and highest-paid players -- have work to do with builidng their relationship. It's Wall's seventh season and Beal's fifth.

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"I think a lot of times we have a tendency to dislike each other on the court. … We got to be able to put that to the side. If you miss somebody on one play or don’t have something go right ... as long as you come to each other and talk. If I starting arguing with somebody I’m cool. I’m just playing basketball," Wall said in a sitdown interview with CSN's Chris Miller that airs tonight, Wizards Central: Offseason Grind, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

"Now that you have your money you got to go out there and improve your game. I want you to be an All-Star just as much as I’m an All-Star.  If we were playing well as a tandem like the other two superstars that play together as a backcourt, play as a tandem, one night it’s going to be his night, one night it’s going to be mine, some nights it might be both of us. Those are nights it’s going to be tough to beat us."

Since the backcourt has played together for four years, there's a tendency to asume that they're best friends. But they don't spend much time together outside of Verizon Center and they have had to be separated on more than one occassion after blowups.

Last season, Alan Anderson made peace after preseason game when Beal was upset. Two seasons ago it was Garrett Temple, Beal's best friend on the team who now is with the Sacramento Kings, to restrain him. Both veterans are gone after free agency this summer.

In piecemeal, Wall and Beal have spoken publicly about how they can disagree with passion.

In a 41-41 season that had the Wizards out of the playoffs, Wall concluded the overall bickering amongst teammates was as much of a problem as the injuries.

One of the early signs of the season going south came after an embarrassing 123-106 loss to the Indiana Pacers in which Wall remarked postgame he'd only gotten nine shots up in 31 minutes. He didn't mention anyone by name, but it appeared to mean he likely was unhappy that Beal took 22 in comparison. The next night, in a road game vs. the Charlotte Hornets, Wall predictably had nine shots by the end of the first quarter in a 101-87 loss.

Beal's first injury last season was a shoulder contusion that came a few games prior to that episode, when he went down to the floor for a loose ball and took a knee against the Atlanta Hawks. While teammates ran to his aid, Wall bypassed Beal and walked to the other end of the court during the dead ball. This sort of body language speaks more than any words.

A good sign for both was towards the end of last season they did hang out during a road trip in New York, but it will take more than that if they are going to be the backcourt they were in the 2015 playoffs when the Wizards were Wall's broken hand/wrist from advancing to the conference finals. 

The 2016-17 version of the Wizards won't have Nene, Jared Dudley, Temple, Anderson, Drew Gooden, Paul Pierce or Trevor Ariza to calm tense situations. If Wall and Beal are truly going to be leaders, they have to be the voices of reason and not fan any flames with the likes of Trey Burke, Tomas Satoransky, Andrew Nicholson, Kelly Oubre and likely Jarell Eddie.

"It’s tough because we’re both alphas. It’s always tough when you have two guys who firmly believe in themselves, who will bet on themselves against anybody else, who want to be that guy. We both can be that guy," Beal said.

"Sometimes I think we both lose sight of the fact that we need each other. I wouldn’t be in the situation I’m in without John. John wouldn’t be in the situation he’s in without me, without the rest of the team. It goes hand-in-hand so it’s kind of a pride thing. We got to (hash) out our pride, fiigure out what our goals are individually, help each other achieve those goals, figure out what our team goal is, where do we see ourselves five years from now, 10 years from now and go from there."

It's a rough patch that coach Randy Wittman never was able to smooth out. This is where new coach Scott Brooks is expected to help in their development as the leaders witth the core veterans gutted from the roster, some of whom insisted that during games it can be difficult to get through to the backcourt when they're frustrated.

"Guys got to know their role. I think that’s the key. I think with coach Brooks coming in he’s going to hold everybody accountable starting with me," Wall said. "Just make sure everybody know what their role is. If everybody buys into their role, we’ll be fine."

Wall signed an $80 million deal for five years in 2013 for what was then a max deal under a $58.7 million salary cap. Beal signed his max for five years under a $94.1 million cap.

This was viewed as Wall's team since he was drafted No. 1 overall in 2010, became a three-time All-Star and second-team All-Defense. Beal, who played a career-low 55 games last season, has yet to achieve those sorts of honors. Wall has to be willing to share. 

“I want it all to be on me. At the same time I want him to be right there with me. He’s my sidekick. I’m A. He’s A-1. He’s right there," Wall said. "That’s something we got to do on the first day of training camp. We have to go in there and understand and get on the same page.

"If we’re not on the same page and we have our ups and downs we’ll keep dealing with the same problems. We have to get control of it. I think it’s hanging out off the court, doing those little things (helps)."

Wall called on his brief college experience when he spent one year at Kentucky. He had All-America teammates in DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe. Wall, of course, was everyone's favorite. Cousins is an All-Star and now has won a gold medal as an Olympian for USA Basketball. Bledsoe is a starting point guard for the Phoenix Suns.

"It kind of goes back to when I was in college," Wall said. "Me and DeMarcus, E-Bled, they all knew I was getting all the media attention but every time I win I brought those guys along with me. I didn’t leave them behind. That’s because we hung out so much. We built a bond together. When you build that bond it’s kind of hard to break."

Ideally, Wall and Beal will reach that comfort level but they can't force a friendship. They can be, however, better professionals as both admitted in exit interviews. To grow into the leaders they claim to be for 2016-17 means they can't contribute to the chaos that produced players-only meetings (called by role players) in two of the last three seasons.

The way they vibed during the 3-1 start last season, with both taking turns leading the way to close fourth quarters, is what they have to be for most of 82 games. Not what they were for the other 78.

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