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Myers gets in better shape after signing a big contract

PHILADELPHIA -- Brett Myers has a slimmer waistline to go
with his fat contract.

Myers, who agreed to a $25.75 million, three-year deal with
the Philadelphia Phillies last week, showed up at his news
conference Tuesday looking fit and ready to live up to high
expectations.

The 26-year-old right-hander said he weighs 218 pounds, down
from 250 at the end of last season. The Phillies are counting on
him to anchor a deep rotation that includes newcomers Freddy Garcia
and Adam Eaton, promising lefty Cole Hamels and veterans
Jamie Moyer and Jon Lieber.

"I surpassed what I was shooting for," said Myers, whose
weight sometimes became an issue the past couple years.

Instead of eating nachos and ice cream on the couch, Myers
followed a stricter diet and spent countless hours in the gym this
offseason. He'll show off his new frame in a uniform when pitchers
and catchers report to spring training next week.

A former first-round pick, Myers has won at least 11 games each
of the past four seasons. He went 12-7 with a 3.91 ERA in 31 starts
last season and led the Phillies in wins, ERA, starts, innings
(198), strikeouts (189), winning percentage (.632) and opponents'
batting average (.257).

"It's difficult to go outside the organization to obtain this
type of talent," assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said.
"It's important when you have this type of talent to keep them
around."

Myers missed time last year after taking a leave from the team
following his arrest for abuse against his wife in Boston in late
June. The charge against Myers was dismissed in October when Kim
Myers said she did not want her husband prosecuted for hitting her
in the face during an argument near Fenway Park.

A matured Myers said he learned from the incident, and his
relationship with his wife is solid.

"I felt terrible for the organization and my family that it
came about," Myers said as his wife sat nearby. "It's one of
those things where everybody makes mistakes and hopefully these
things never happen again."

Surprisingly, Myers got a nice reception from the notoriously
tough Philly fans in his first home start after the incident.

"I really appreciated that," he said. "I grew a lot of
respect for the fans after that day."

Selected with the 12th overall pick in the 1999 amateur draft,
Myers is 54-40 with a 4.34 ERA in 140 starts and one relief
appearance. He won a career-best 14 games in his first full season
in 2003 and has started at least 31 games every season since.

With an excellent nucleus surrounding him, Myers could be on the
verge of a breakout season. His main concern is helping the
Phillies finally reach the playoffs after falling short on the
final weekend two straight years.

"I'm not worried about what my stats are as long as the team
wins when I start," Myers said.