Texas Rangers

Phillies coach Dusty Wathan to interview for Rangers manager

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Phillies coach Dusty Wathan to interview for Rangers manager

The Texas Rangers will interview Phillies third base coach Dusty Wathan for their manager opening later this week, according to a baseball source.

Wathan, 45, was a finalist for the Phillies' job that went to Gabe Kapler a year ago.

Wathan is a former catcher who played professionally for 14 seasons and appeared in the majors with Kansas City in 2002. He managed 10 seasons in the Phillies' minor-league system and was Eastern League manager of the year at Double A Reading in 2015 and 2016 before moving up to Triple A Lehigh Valley in 2017 and joining the big-league staff under Kapler in 2018. He managed many of the players that have recently arrived in the majors with the Phillies.

The Rangers fired manager Jeff Banister in late September. According to reports, they have already interviewed several candidates including former Yankees manager Joe Girardi. Cubs bench Brandon Hyde, Astros bench coach Joe Espada and Rangers assistant GM Jayce Tingler. The Rangers are also expected to interview Don Wakamatsu, who finished 2018 as interim skipper, and Sandy Alomar Jr., a member of the Indians' coaching staff. 

We profiled Wathan here last year.

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Cubs' Cole Hamels doesn't shut door on possible Phillies return in 1st trip back as a visitor

Cubs' Cole Hamels doesn't shut door on possible Phillies return in 1st trip back as a visitor

Cole Hamels came back to his old baseball home Friday for a completely new experience.

His first time in Citizens Bank Park as a visiting player.

“It’s a little bit different,” said the 2008 World Series MVP, back in Philadelphia with the Chicago Cubs. “I guess I get to finally check that off my list of one of the last visiting clubhouses I’ve been in.”

Hamels, who will turn 35 in December, spent a decade down the hall in the home clubhouse before being dealt to the Texas Rangers at the trade deadline in July 2015. He was on the move again this July as the Rangers dealt him to the Cubs.

Hamels will not pitch during the three-game series in Philadelphia.

“When I first got traded, after a couple starts it looked like it could possibly happen,” he said. “I was trying to see who I would match up against. To be able to match up against (Jake) Arrieta again or Aaron Nola for probably the first time ever, that would've probably been a pretty good game. But at the same time, sometimes the schedule doesn't permit it to happen.”

Hamels will be visible during the weekend. Because he is still an active player, he was unable to attend the 10-year reunion of the 2008 World Series championship team in early August. You can bet Hamels will be recognized with some type of welcome-back tribute on the video board at some point over the weekend.

“There are so many memories,” he said. “This is a place that I got my start in and it created a lot of who I am today.

“As much appreciation as I have for the city, it's mutual. This is a tremendous place to play. To win here was absolutely amazing. There aren't enough words to describe that sort of experience.”

Hamels was traded in the early stages of a Phillies’ rebuild that is starting to bear fruit. The Phillies entered the series against the Cubs three games out of first place in the NL East with a month to play.

Phillies management fortified its playoff chase with several trades in recent weeks. There was speculation that the Phillies could pursue Hamels in a deal, but general manager Matt Klentak made it clear that he wanted to avoid the high price of doing business on the starting-pitching market. Hamels was traded to the Cubs. The Phillies did not add a starter.

Hamels said he did not think about coming back to Philadelphia as the trade deadline approached.

“I think I was trying to figure out how to pitch well,” he said. “I was in a real rut for the better part of the season and especially that last month.”

Hamels had a 10.23 ERA over his final five starts with Texas. He allowed 25 earned runs and 37 hits in 22 innings.

He has been a different guy with the Cubs, going 4-0 with a 0.69 ERA in his first six starts. He has allowed just 28 hits in 39 innings. Maybe it’s a good thing the Phillies are missing him this weekend.

Hamels, of course, pithed a no-hitter against the Cubs in Wrigley Field in his last start for the Phillies in 2015. What turned him around after the trade from Texas?

“Everything really falls back to mechanics,” Hamels said. “If you can square away your mechanics, confidence builds off that and you're able to then get results. I was struggling the whole year trying to find the right type of mechanics and my fastball wasn't really there and nothing else was really playing off that. Just correcting that and the results have kind of come.”

Hamels was drafted as a high school senior by the Phillies in 2002. He grew up in the organization, still does charitable work in the area and has a residence in the area. There has long been a school of thought that Hamels would finish his career in a Phillies uniform. It could happen. He could be a free agent this winter if the Cubs don’t pick up his $20 million club option for 2019. If the Cubs bring him back, he could be a free agent the following winter. You never know.

“This is a tremendous place to play, and if there's opportunities, there's opportunities,” Hamels said. “I won't ever shy away from them. But each and every day, I'm just trying to put up good numbers and still maintain the level of play that I expect out of myself and help whatever team I'm on find a way to win a championship.”

For now, that is the Chicago Cubs.

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Report: Rangers trading Cole Hamels to Cubs

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Report: Rangers trading Cole Hamels to Cubs

Cole Hamels sure likes to take the mound at Wrigley Field.

Now, it looks like he'll be pitching there every fifth day.

Hamels is being traded from the Rangers to the Cubs, according to a report Thursday night by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Per a report by Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan, the Rangers are also sending a significant amount of cash while receiving minor leaguers in return.

It did not seem like the Phillies were strongly in on Hamels. The Phillies scouted the left-hander Monday night, according to a report by MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, but general manager Matt Klentak had said last week he was hoping to avoid the starting pitching market at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

"Right now starting pitching has been the strength of our team this year," he said last Friday. "We’re very encouraged about not only the five here but also what we have in Triple A, and we’re hopeful that that’s going to mean that we can stay out of the starting pitcher trade market at the deadline because, if you can avoid it, that is definitely a market to avoid."

Hamels will join the National League-leading Cubs, who are 60-42. The 34-year-old is 3-1 with a 1.76 ERA, 40 strikeouts and six walks in six career starts at the Friendly Confines, where he of course pitched that 2015 no-hitter in his final outing with the Phillies. He was traded six days later to the Rangers.

The lefty is having a rough 2018. He's 5-9 with a 4.72 ERA and 1.37 WHIP, while he's also hit a career-high 12 batters. Over his last five starts, Hamels has a 10.23 ERA.

The reported Rangers-Cubs trade comes on the same day J.A. Happ, another former Phillie, was dealt to the Yankees (see story). The Phillies had "definite interest" in Happ, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury reported 10 days ago (see story).

Klentak has said the Phillies will continue to seek upgrades at the deadline. The team entered Thursday in first place of the NL East at 57-44. The Phillies could add a bat or another piece to the bullpen.

However, the starting pitching market appears even less likely for the Phillies after Thursday.

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