Sports

Phillies reward Howard with $125 million extension

Ryan Howard took a good-natured jab at those fickle fans in baseball-crazy Philadelphia.

“Hopefully there’s no riots taking place back in Philly,” he joked of his new mega contract.

Get used to it, City of Brotherly Love. This guy’s going to be around for a while.

The slugging first baseman agreed to a $125 million, five-year contract extension Monday that could keep him with the Phillies until 2017.

Howard preferred securing his future in Philadelphia to testing free agency in two years – and boy, is he getting his payday. He also felt loyal to the franchise that gave him his chance to reach the big leagues, saying, “That wasn’t a very hard decision.”

“I tell you what, it’s a great feeling to have that security and know where you’re going to be,” Howard said. “I feel what I’ve been doing over the last couple of years, I feel pretty confident that down the road, I’ll be right where I want to be and still doing the same things.”

Howard’s teammates wasted no time hitting him up for favors, either.

“Where we going to eat, Ryan?” Ben Francisco asked.

Howard just chuckled.

“He’s going to take all your money,” quipped Shane Victorino.

Even general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. got into the fun.

“As part of this deal, he has agreed to buy a second home for me,” Amaro joked during a news conference at AT&Park in San Francisco, where the Phillies opened a three-game series with the Giants.

But in all seriousness, Amaro pulled off a deal that keeps the centerpiece of the Phillies’ offense in place for the long haul.

“We just felt it was good timing for us,” Amaro said. “We felt No. 1, he’s one of the elite offensive players in the game. We could have waited another year and a half or so and dealt with it later on, but the fact of the matter is we decided he is that important to our organization and to our club and to our future.”

The 30-year-old Howard will make $20 million each in 2012 and 2013 and $25 million annually from 2014-16. The Phillies have a $23 million club option for 2017 with a $10 million buyout.

The two-time All-Star led the Phillies to two straight trips to the World Series, winning a championship in 2008.

The $25 million guaranteed average salary in the extension will be baseball’s second-highest behind Alex Rodriguez’s $27.5 million average under a 10-year contract with the Yankees running through 2017.

Howard, the 2006 NL MVP, is earning $19 million this season as part of a $54 million, three-year deal that pays him $20 million in 2011.

He signed that deal in February 2009, avoiding a potentially contentious arbitration hearing.

Bichette returns to glory days

Former Colorado Rockies All-Star Dante Bichette returned to Denver’s Coors Field on Monday on the 15th anniversary of his game-winning home run in 1995 in the stadium’s first game.

Bichette, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch of the game to former teammate Larry Walker, was an original member of the Rockies organization and made four All-Star Game appearances during his seven-plus seasons with the team. He hit the first home in franchise history, April 7, 1993, in New York against the Mets.

His most memorable home run came against the Mets two years later. Bichette hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the 14th inning in the first game played at Coors Field.

“Every opening day I get two or three calls because ESPN or somebody will show it on TV,” Bichette said. “It comes up a lot.”

Short hops

The St. Louis Cardinals placed infielder Felipe Lopez on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow strain. Lopez thinks pitching in a 20-inning game this month is at least partly to blame for the injury, which the team expects will heal with rest. … The Kansas City Royals have claimed outfielder Jai Miller off waivers from the Oakland Athletics and transferred infielder Josh Fields to the 60-day disabled list. Miller was immediately optioned to Triple-A Omaha. … Washington Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez was scratched from the lineup against the Chicago Cubs on Monday because of lower back tightness – something that has been an issue lately for the former All-Star. … Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist gets a $561,900 signing bonus as part of a three-year contract extension he agreed to earlier that guarantees him $18 million for 2010-13. The utilityman is making $438,100 this season under a one-year contract agreed to in March.

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