Braves trade Hanson to Angels for Walden


Braves trade Hanson to Angels for Walden

ATLANTA (AP) The Braves traded Tommy Hanson to the Los Angeles Angels for former closer Jordan Walden on Friday, clearing a spot in the Atlanta rotation for Julio Teheran, Randal Delgado or another young starter.

Hanson has seen a decrease in his velocity as he battled rotator cuff tendinitis in 2011 and a lower back strain in 2012. Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said the 26-year-old was a consistent winner in four seasons with the Braves and had no arm troubles this year.

``It's a good risk on a pitcher we really believe in,'' Dipoto said.

Hanson was 13-10 this year, setting a career high in wins, but his ERA climbed for the third straight season to a career-worst 4.48. The right-hander was 45-32 with the Braves.

Asked whether he was hoping for a bounce-back season from Hanson, Dipoto said his scouts saw Hanson performing on a level consistent with his career.

``I don't know that we're necessarily looking for a bounce back,'' Dipoto said. ``He won 13 games. I don't think it would be fair to qualify it as a disappointing season. ... His velocity remained consistent from month to month. Our scouting reports remained consistent with what we've always thought of Tommy. He's done it for four years at the big league level, and we think he'll continue to do it.''

Hanson missed the last two months of the 2011 season with the right shoulder injury. Dr. James Andrews found a small tear in Hanson's rotator cuff. Hanson said Andrews offered reassurance by saying ``three of four pitchers had what I had.''

Hanson said Friday the injury affected his offseason work before the 2012 season but said he has changed his workout plan this fall.

``I think toward the end, I didn't feel I was as strong as I need to be,'' Hanson said of this season. ``I think as the years have gone along I've learned how to have a better understanding of how to stay healthy and be strong. I think it was a little bit of a learning experience last year and I'm looking to improve.''

Hanson was 10-5 with a 3.71 ERA before the All-Star break and 3-5 with a 5.69 ERA in the second half. He was on the disabled list from July 31 to Aug. 17 with a lower back strain.

Hanson, who was born in Tulsa, Okla., said his family moved to Southern California when he was 2 and he was a longtime Angels fan.

Hanson said he was going to get a haircut as he prepared to attend Braves closer Craig Kimbrel's wedding on Saturday when he was informed of the trade. He said he quickly moved past his immediate shock and is ``extremely excited'' to be joining the team he cheered for growing up.

``Where I grew up there's a ton of Angels fans,'' Hanson said. ``I grew up going to Angels games. ... Immediately I was shocked and now I'm just excited. I wish spring training was tomorrow.''

Walden had 32 saves in 2011, then lost his closer's role to Ernesto Frieri and was 3-2 with a 3.46 ERA and one save this year. He became superfluous when the Angels agreed this week to a $3.5 million, one-year contract with Ryan Madson.

Walden gives Atlanta another power arm for its bullpen. His fastball has been closed at close to 100 mph, and he had 48 strikeouts in 39 innings this year.

``We've been focused on adding a power arm to our bullpen all offseason,'' Braves general manager Frank Wren said. ``We felt if we added one power arm we would have a bullpen that would stack up with the best bullpens in our league. Jordan Walden has closing experience and the kind of arm that will stack up well in a seventh- and eighth-inning role for us.''

Atlanta's rotation returns Tim Hudson, Kris Medlen, Paul Maholm and Mike Minor. Brandon Beachy, who had right elbow ligament-replacement surgery in June, could be back during the second half of the season.

Wren said there will be room for a young starter to emerge for the start of the season.

``We feel like we have a lot of guys that are lining up close to helping us,'' Wren said.

Hanson was expected to earn about $4 million, possibly clearing more payroll room for another offseason move. The Braves are expected to move Martin Prado from left field to third base as a replacement for Chipper Jones, who has retired.

``We're still looking for left fielder-leadoff guy, but I don't know if that is connected with this deal,'' Wren said. ``We just felt with the way our rotation lined up next year, it would be a good fit to add a guy like Jordan Walden.''

The Braves on Friday declined to tender 2013 contract offer to two former prominent members of their staff, right-handed pitchers Jair Jurrjens and Peter Moylan.

Jurrjens was 3-4 with a 6.89 ERA in only 11 games this season. He made his last appearance with Atlanta on July 31. Moylan, a former top setup man, appeared in only eight games.

Atlanta also claimed right-hander David Carpenter off waivers from Boston. The Angels claimed outfielder Scott Cousins off waivers from Seattle.

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Phil Chenier becomes fifth Bullets player to ever have his jersey retired


Phil Chenier becomes fifth Bullets player to ever have his jersey retired

On the newest banner that hangs from the rafters at Capital One Arena, a small microphone - embroidered with a white 33 - is subtly stitched into the bottom left corner. 

You'd barely notice it was there; Phil Chenier certainly didn't.

Chenier, who had his #45 jersey retired tonight during halftime of tonight's Wizards-Nuggets game, didn't even notice the mic, added to signify his three decades as a broadcaster with the team.

"I had no idea there was even a mic on it," Chenier said, laughing. "I'll have to go back out and look at it some more."

Despite the Wizards' 108-100 loss, the night was first and foremost a celebration of Chenier - the 5th player in franchise history to have his number rasied in the rafters. He joins Earl Monroe, Elvin Hayes, Gus Johnson, and Wes Unseld as the only players to achieve the honor so far.

"To be up there with the other 4 names means a lot – people I had the fortune of playing with," he added. "I remember my first day of practice and I had just watched this team play in the finals and now I’m plopped down with Wes Unfeld and Earl Monroe and Gus Johnson. It seemed like they accepted me from the get go."

Many from that 1978 Championship team were in attendance on Friday night, watching as one of their teammates cemented his professional legacy. For Chenier, that acceptance as an All-Time Bullets great is at the core of why he played the game.

"You know, when you play this game, you play for acceptance," he said. "You want to be the best, you want to be accepted. Having players and childhood friends – and of course, your family – here, you’re surrounded by so many people that meant a lot to you both before and now. It’s a really humbling feeling.”

It was hard to find someone in DC without something good to say about Chenier on Friday night. Even in the basement of Capital One Center, after the Wizards' fifth loss in seven games, head coach Scott Brooks took a moment out of his press conference to praise Chenier. 

"[Chenier] is a great ambassador and we all love him," Brooks said. "It's well deserved. It's going to be pretty cool seeing his jersey every time we step into this building."

Fans left the arena with a commemorative Phil Chenier cut out. Phil Chenier left the arena with his number retired. The experience was, according to the man himself, everything he thought it'd be. 

"You don’t know what the emotions are going to be..." he told media members after the ceremony."...Obviously it’s something I thought about, but it really was exciting to see the 45 up there and my name."

Then Chenier cracked a smile.

"I’m glad it’s over with."

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Wizards lose again, this time to Nuggets as offense falls flat

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Wizards lose again, this time to Nuggets as offense falls flat

The Washington Wizards lost to the Denver Nuggets 108-100 on Friday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Another loss: It is becoming more and more clear that the Wizards need a shot in the arm, something to change the direction of where they are currently heading.

Whether that will come in the form of All-Star point guard John Wall returning from his months-long absence, an adjustment to their lineup or strategy, or something else entirely, the losses are piling up and at a tough time in the season.

With another loss on Friday night, their seventh in their last 11 games, the Wizards are now 40-32. They have plenty of room to still clinch a playoff berth, as their magic number stands at two, but they only have 10 games left to secure their all-important playoff seed.

Both the Pacers and Cavaliers, two teams just ahead of them in the playoff race, won on Friday.

The Wizards lost their second straight game and again offense was their problem. They scored 100 points, six below their season average, and committed 17 turnovers.

Big third quarter: The Denver Nuggets have emerged as a team on the rise, a young squad with burgeoning stars that could someday soon make some noise in the Western Conference. The reason is because they are very good on offense. Defense is a much different story.

That was not the case on Friday night, as the Wizards had all sorts of trouble scoring in three of their four quarters. They managed just 43 points by halftime, the fewest the Nuggets have allowed in a first half since Jan. 27.

The Wizards, though, did get cooking in the third quarter. They erupted for 33 points in the frame while shooting 63.2 percent from the field and 58.3 percent from three. Markieff Morris, who finished with 17, had 11 points in the third quarter and Bradley Beal (24 points) hit three threes.

The Wizards also found a solution for Jamal Murray, one of the Nuggets' brightest young stars. He had 20 points at halftime, but went scoreless in nine minutes in the third quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. (15 points) was among those who gave him trouble. Murry finished with 25.

The big third quarter reflected well on the Wizards' ability to make adjustments, but their 24-point fourth quarter flipped the script again.


Didn't force mistakes: The first time these teams squared off back in October, the Wizards forced the Nuggets into 23 turnovers. This game was a very different story. 

The Nuggets didn't commit their first turnover until midway through the second quarter and had only three by halftime. They had just 10 turnovers for the game.

Denver deserves some credit for limiting their mistakes, but all of it did not reflect well on the Wizards' defense. They didn't put enough pressure on the ball and failed to disrupt passing lanes like they usually do. It was uncharacteristic, as the Wizards entered the game 10th in average turnovers forced.

Not creating mistakes allowed the Nuggets to get way to many field goal attempts. Though they shot just 43.5 percent, Denver managed 108 points. And not getting turnovers offered the Wizards few opportunities for easy transition buckets.

Turnovers were one issue with the Wizards' defense. So was defending the perimeter, as the Nuggets shot 17-for-34 (50%) from long range. It is worth noting the Nuggets were without their leading scorer Gary Harris, a guy who is dangerous from long range.


Special night: Halftime offered a memorable moment in franchise history as legendary player and broadcast Phil Chenier had his No. 45 jersey retired by the team. His longtime broadcaster and friend Steve Buckhantz hosted the ceremony with about 20 friends and family members of Chenier's seated behind him. Buckhantz had opening comments, then majority owner Ted Leonsis spoke as everyone in the crowd stood and cheered.

Then, it was Chenier's time to talk. He thanked his former teammates, members of the organization and those close to him. He kept his composure until the very end when he brought up his mother, Peggy, who could not make the event. Chenier choked up and wiped away tears as he described what she has meant to him in his life.

It was a powerful moment and a great ceremony to honor a guy who has impacted the lives of many in the D.C. area. Now, his No. 45 will hang up in the rafters forever. That banner, by the way, features a picture of a microphone and the phrase '33 years,' signifying how long he was the color analyst for Bullets and Wizards games.


Up next: The Wizards do not have a game Saturday, though they are going to practice and Wall is expected to take a big step forward in his rehab. Their next game is Sunday at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington when they host the Knicks. That will also be a special game, as the Wizards are set to honor the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship.

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