Philadelphia Phillies hire Triple-A manager

Philadelphia Phillies hire Triple-A manager

PHILADELPHIA (AP) The Philadelphia Phillies have spent the week starting to put their 2013 plans into place.

General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Phillies exercised the $5 million option on All-Star catcher Carlos Ruiz's contract and declined options on utility man Ty Wigginton ($4 million) and reliever Jose Contreras ($2.5 million). Wigginton and Contreras both receive $500,000 buyouts.

Philadelphia also declined a $5.5 million option on third baseman Placido Polanco, who gets a $1 million buyout. Veteran outfielder Juan Pierre and backup catcher Brian Schneider also became free agents this week.

The Phillies on Thursday hired Dave Brundage as manager of the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Brundage managed the Atlanta Braves' Triple-A affiliate for the last six years. He has a career record of 1,086-1,028 (.514) in 13 seasons as a minor league manager.

Ruiz batted .325 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs this year, setting career highs in average, home runs, RBIs, hits (121) and doubles (32). He was retained as the Phillies try to move past last season's disappointment of missing the playoffs, ending their five-year run as NL East champions.

After an uncharacteristically slow start, the Phillies played their best baseball from July 31 to Sept. 21, going 31-17 to climb back into the postseason race after falling a season-worst 14 games under .500 right after the All-Star break.

They were 13 games out of a wild-card spot when they traded two-time All-Star outfielders Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino hours before the non-waiver deadline, and were already looking ahead to 2013.

Since winning the franchise's second World Series title in 2008, the Phillies have taken one step backward each season. They lost to the New York Yankees in six games in the 2009 World Series, lost to the San Francisco Giants in six games in the 2010 NLCS, and lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in five games in the 2011 NL division series.

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Tarik's 3 Stars: Wilson and Backstrom shine in Caps 3rd straight win

Tarik's 3 Stars: Wilson and Backstrom shine in Caps 3rd straight win

Tom Wilson scored twice, Nicklas Backstrom recorded four helpers and the assistant coaches chipped in with a big assist in Montreal, where the Caps earned a 6-4 victory over the Canadiens on Saturday night.

The win was Washington’s third in a row and seventh in eight games as they close in on another Metro Division title. Caps Coach Barry Trotz, meantime, claimed victory No. 200 in Washington; his next win will equal Bruce Boudreau for second all-time in franchise history.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Tom Wilson, Capitals

Wilson’s all-around game continues to blossom…and the Caps’ big winger continues to fill up the scoresheet. At Bell Centre, he scored back-to-back goals less than four minutes apart in the first period to put the Caps in command. Wilson also missed an empty net in the closing seconds by just a few inches. The soon-to-be 24-year-old now has 13 goals—six more than his previous career high.  

2-Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals

Backstrom notched four assists and, as usual, he did it quietly. And they weren’t cheapies—three of the four helpers were of the primary variety. Backstrom, who has four goals and 12 assists in his last 12 games, has now notched four or more points 20 times in his career. It was also his 11th-career four assist game.

3-Leonhardt and Ohashi, Capitals

That’s right, I’m giving the third star to assistant coaches Brett ‘Stretch’ Leonhardt and Tim Ohashi. They quickly spotted that the Habs were offside on their second goal. And, after a coach’s challenge, the refs agreed. Instead of 2-0, it remained 1-0 and the Caps took full advantage of their second chance, scoring the game’s next four goals.

Agree? Disagree? Tell us what you think in the comments.

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Growing rumors that Redskins will land Pernell McPhee

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Growing rumors that Redskins will land Pernell McPhee

Every team in the NFL would love to add to their pass rush, and the Redskins are no exception. The team withdrew its contract offer to Junior Galette, spurring rumors that they were looking elsewhere.

The Redskins recently had linebacker Pernell McPhee in for a visit, and rumors are swirling that the former Bear is close to joining the Burgundy and Gold.

Nothing has been confirmed, but if McPhee does come to Washington, it would be in the hopes that he can provide a boost to the team's pass rush. The linebacker has proven himself capable of getting to the quarterback in his seven seasons in the NFL, recording 31.0 sacks in his career, with 21.5 of those coming in the last four years. He's also forced at least one fumble in each of the past five seasons.

Playing in the DMV again would mark a homecoming of sorts for McPhee, who played in Baltimore for 4 seasons after being drafted by the Ravens in the 5th round of the 2011 draft before signing in Chicago as a free agent.