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Monday, August 19
Updated: August 20, 2:01 PM ET
 
Catcher gets three-year extension from Phils

Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- Catcher Mike Lieberthal began his career with the Philadelphia Phillies and wants to end it with them, too.

Mike Lieberthal
Catcher
Philadelphia Phillies
Profile
2002 SEASON STATISTICS
GM HR RBI R SB AVG
102 14 46 40 0 .292

Lieberthal took a big step toward that goal Monday, agreeing to a $22.25 million, three-year contract extension with a $7.5 million club option for 2006.

The 30-year-old catcher, drafted by the Phillies out of high school in 1990, said the organization has taken good care of him.

''There's something to be said for playing your whole career with one team. If you're happy, then why change?'' Lieberthal said.

Lieberthal is a two-time All-Star and has won a Gold Glove. He is hitting .292 this season with 14 homers and 46 RBI.

Philadelphia, which had a $7.25 million option for 2003 under Lieberthal's current contract, guaranteed that salary as the first season of the new deal. He gets $7.5 million in each of the 2004 and 2005 seasons, and the Phillies have a $7.5 million option for 2006 that could become guaranteed depending on his performance.

Lieberthal missed most of last season because of a knee injury. He has improved at the plate recently, hitting .391 with eight homers and 14 RBI in his last 24 games.

In his ninth major league season, Lieberthal hit three homers against the Los Angeles Dodgers in a game earlier this month. It was Lieberthal's seventh multihomer game.

His best season was 1999, when he batted .300 with 31 homers and 96 RBI.

''A championship-caliber club is strong up the middle, and we certainly believe that that begins with the catching position,'' general manager Ed Wade said. ''To be able to have a guy who's got his credentials and have him here and be able to keep him is very important for us.''

Lieberthal thinks the Phillies' young pitching staff will blossom and says Pat Burrell, Bobby Abreu and Jimmy Rollins form a solid lineup core.

''I see a lot of the building blocks here,'' Lieberthal said. ''If I didn't think we were going to win, then I might even consider maybe somewhere else. But I don't think we're far off.''






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