Hamil­ton Was Never Part of Na­tion­als’ Plan

The Washington Post Sunday - - Sports -

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.

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