Hamilton Was Never Part of Nationals’ Plan
With rookie outfielder Josh Hamilton having now played himself into the Cincinnati Reds’ starting lineup with a strong start — his winning battle over drug addiction making him an early favorite for comeback player of the year — some teams are saying privately they would have taken Hamilton in December’s Rule 5 draft had he lasted until their first pick.
But the Washington Nationals are not one of those teams.
According to team sources, the Nationals discussed Hamilton’s name before the draft, but decided to pass on him with their sixth overall pick if he was available (which, ultimately, he was not) — this despite (or perhaps because of) the presence of Chuck LaMar as one of General Manager Jim Bowden’s special assistants. LaMar was the general manager of the Devil Rays when the team drafted Hamilton in 1999.
While the Reds orchestrated a deal whereby the Chicago Cubs took Hamilton with the No. 3 overall pick and traded him to Cincinnati, the Nationals now say they are thrilled with the player they got with their No. 6 overall pick — catcher Jesus Flores.
ROCKET BOOST?: When rookie Phil Hughes made his major league debut for the New York Yankees on Thursday, he became already the ninth pitcher to start for them — in the team’s first 20 games of the season.
And around the Yankees, there seems to be a quiet confidence that starter No. 10 — that would be a certain 44-year-old Texan who goes by the name of “Rocket” — is just around the corner.
Only problem: Clemens has made it clear he wants to pitch for a contender, and of the three teams he is considering — the Yankees, Red Sox and Astros — New York is currently the furthest from first place.
POWER SOURCES LACKING: Although Mark Teixeira finally got off the schneid on Thursday, these players are among those who had yet to hit their first home run of 2007 entering yesterday’s games: Alfonso Soriano, Joe Mauer, David Wright, Jay Gibbons and Mike Cameron.