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Astros agree to $2.9 million deal with Carlos Pena

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Astros agree to $2.9 million deal with Carlos Pena

HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Astros wanted to add power to their lineup and a veteran presence to their young team.

They think they got both by agreeing to a $2.9 million, one-year contract with Carlos Pena.

``We believe he is exactly the kind of player we need in this organization at this time,'' general manager Jeff Luhnow said Monday. ``We think that he's going to be a big contributor for us on the field as well as in the clubhouse next year.''

Pena will be the Astros' designated hitter, addressing a key need as they prepare for their first season in the American League. But Luhnow said Pena could also play first base.

``I think he provides some flexibility because he's a left-handed batter who can play a good first base defensively,'' Luhnow said. ``So that gives you some options ... he can still play very good first base, and we expect to see him at first base a little bit.''

The 34-year-old Pena, who spent last season in his second stint with Tampa Bay, hit .197 with 19 home runs and 61 RBIs in 2012, when he made $7.5 million.

In addition to his base salary, he can earn $1.4 million in performance bonuses, $233,333 each for 350, 400, 450, 500, 550 and 600 plate appearances.

He has hit below .200 in two of the past three seasons and struck out a career-high 182 times last season. But he also draws a lot of walks - he had 87 last season - and has continued to drive in runs despite his dipping averages.

``There are so many things that I have to improve,'' he said. ``There are so many things that I've been so good at, and other things that I've been challenged with. The game has changed so you adapt and make adjustments ... I'm always learning.''

He said that he had other offers, but felt as if Houston was the right fit for him.

``Everything seems so fresh so I wanted to be part of that new identity,'' he said. ``Hopefully as we start creating our new identity and shaping up our culture, I want to make sure that I do everything I can to start steering it in the right direction.''

Pena had the best seasons of his career in his first stint with the Rays from 2007-2010 when he had at least 100 RBIs in three of those four seasons. His most productive year came in his first with the team when he hit 46 homers with 121 RBIs, both career highs.

Pena started his career with the Rangers, and has hit 277 homers with 791 RBIs in a 12-year career that also had stops in Oakland, Detroit, Boston and with the Cubs. He has history with new Houston manager Bo Porter, having played with Porter in spring training when he was in the Rangers minor league system.

He's undaunted by the fact that Houston has lost more than 100 games in each of the past two seasons and isn't expected to contend in its move to the powerful AL West next season.

Pena was in a similar situation in Tampa Bay. They Rays had lost 95 and 101 games respectively in the two seasons before he joined the team. They lost 96 in his first season there in 2007 before winning 97 games the next season and reaching the World Series.

``It actually was inviting to me,'' he said of joining a rebuilding team. ``I've been on teams where we were thought to be the worst in baseball at one point and very quickly, sooner than anyone expected, we were in a World Series. So I've seen things change very quickly. ... I like the challenge that it presents and the potential for growth.''

Some had speculated that the signing of Pena would eliminate the possibility of the Astros bringing back slugger Lance Berkman. Luhnow said that wasn't the case.

``We need to do everything we can to improve this team,'' Luhnow said. ``And if we get to a point where Lance is interested in playing and we find that we can utilize him, which we obviously can if he's healthy, then we'll have a conversation with him.''

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John Wall shares priceless workout video with his son, Ace

John Wall shares priceless workout video with his son, Ace

It's hard to imagine a better way to work out than how John Wall enjoyed his regimen Wednesday. 

Wall posted a video on Instagram doing pushups on a BOSU ball while his son, Ace looked on. All he wanted from his dad was a hug, though. 

It really doesn't get any better than that. 

Wall continues to work toward the 2020-21 season and his much-anticipated return to the floor after missing all of the 2019-20 campaign recovering from Achilles surgery. 

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In his absence Bradley Beal became one of the most consistent and prolific scorers in the NBA, the Wizards found a gem in sharpshooter Davis Bertans and saw key developments from young players such as Troy Brown Jr., Thomas Bryant and Rui Hachimura. 

Wall will return to a much different Washington team next season than the one he was forced to leave midway through the 2018-19 season. From all accounts, he looks ready to give them the boost necessary to become a legitimate force in the Eastern Conference. 

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DeAngelo Hall clarifies regret of not signing with Patriots: 'My heart was always in Washington'

DeAngelo Hall clarifies regret of not signing with Patriots: 'My heart was always in Washington'

Back in July, former Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall told NFL Network that his biggest career regret was signing with Washington in 2009 rather than the New England Patriots.

"Over a few million, I could've changed my legacy by being part of that dynasty," Hall said. "That was on the table for me, and I wish I would've made the decision to take less money and play for Belichick."

That, of course, quickly riled up Washington supporters on social media. Though it's understandable that Hall, and probably numerous other players, would look back and regret not signing with a team that racked up several Super Bowls, many took it as a direct slight to the Washington franchise. During an interview with Julie Donaldson, Hall, who will join Washington's radio booth for the 2020 season, explained his true feelings on the 2009 situation.

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Saying he had regrets about not signing with the Patriots was not a diss to Washington, because the reason he ultimately stayed in the DMV was due to his love for the team and its fans.

“My heart was always in Washington and it was no hesitation in my mind to sign my contract and continue being a member of the Washington Football team," Hall said.

Hall admitted that the chance to win in New England is something he still thinks about. But, that really shouldn't come as a surprise. Now removed from his NFL career, hindsight is 20/20 and almost any player would look back on a potential opportunity to further their legacy with a ring as a missed shot.

Hall is no different, but it doesn't mean he didn't appreciate his time with the Burgundy and Gold. In nine full seasons in Washington, he gained valuable experiences that helped transform him into who he is today.

"But that didn’t happen and it’s made me a better person because of it," Hall said referring to him not signing with New England. "Washington has taught me so many life-long lessons."

Though he doesn't have a Super Bowl ring, the DMV native and Virginia Tech alum got the opportunity to play for his hometown team and cement his own legacy in Washington. So although he may look back and ponder what could have gone differently, he understands he can't change the past. He's okay -- and happy -- with that.

To him, Washington was always meant to be.

"C’mon man. Was there ever any doubt that I was not staying in Washington? Nobody would have believed you," Hall said. "100 percent, I’m Washington for sure.”

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