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Hamels suffering from poison oak

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Ken Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal has been the FOXSports.com's Senior MLB Writer since August 2005. He appears weekly on MLB on FOX, FOX Sports Radio and MLB Network. He's a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter.

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PHILADELPHIA

For a guy in extreme discomfort, Phillies All-Star left-hander Cole Hamels pitched pretty well while suffering from poison oak on both his legs.

Hamels told FOXSports.com Friday night that he contracted poison oak while fishing on teammate Roy Oswalt’s property in Unionville, Mo., during an off-day on June 20.

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He made two starts in pain against the Athletics and Red Sox before his condition finally eased prior to his most recent start against the Marlins.

“It felt like razor blades on the back of my legs every time I’d take a step,” Hamels said.

Utility man Ross Gload — who, like Hamels, wore shorts during the Phillies’ fishing expedition — also came down with poison oak.

Oswalt, who wore long pants, and lefty Cliff Lee and catcher Carlos Ruiz, who fished in different areas, did not.

“It didn’t work out too well for me,” Hamels said, smiling. “I don’t know if I’ll be fishing on (Oswalt’s) property without (long) pants on anytime soon.”

Hamels, though, allowed only two earned runs over eight innings in his first start with poison oak, a 4-1 loss to the Athletics on June 25.

He then pitched four scoreless innings against the Red Sox on June 30, only to depart when a line drive from Adrian Gonzalez ricocheted off his glove hand.

“I didn’t even know I was pitching. I didn’t focus on pitching. It was one of those things where every pitch I was like, ‘OK, I think I’m done,’” Hamels said.

“You’re ready to quit. It wasn’t because of my arm. It just hurt so bad. The sweat didn’t help. It was the most miserable three weeks of my life. I didn’t sleep for three weeks.”

Hamels said he had poison oak several times when he was younger, but never to such an extent. He also suffered an allergic reaction to his medication, and still has rashes on his arms.

“That is some nasty stuff,” Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins said. “I saw it in Toronto. I thought, ‘Why is this man walking like that?’ He was walking very, very funny.

“They told me it was poison oak. But he still went out there. Your mind’s focused. You’ve got a job to do. That’s being a professional.”

Not that Hamels had much choice.

Rollins said the Phillies would have ridiculed Hamels if he had skipped even one start.

“You don’t want to do that on this team. You lose a lot of points doing that on this team. Then we’re going to talk about you,” Rollins said.

“If you’re hurt, you better be hurt. If you’re going to hurt the team, don’t play. But if you’re not going to hurt the team, you’d better be out there.”

Gload, at least, understood Hamels’ plight.

“I was probably the one person who felt for him,” Gload said. “Other people were giving him some crap. But the times I had to go up and pinch-hit and sweat, I was miserable.

“The fact that he went out there those two games and pitched the way he did . . . it’s not something you would wish on anyone.”

Hamels was in good spirits as he detailed his problem on Friday, joking, smiling and talking about how he earned his teammate’s respect.

“The guys were crying-laughing,” he said. “(But) after a game, they’d be in disbelief that I was able to pitch. They couldn’t say anything about me not trying to pitch.”

Hamels’ next start is Sunday against the Braves in the Phillies’ final game before the All-Star break.

If he pitches as scheduled, he will be ineligible for the All-Star Game.

Tagged: Red Sox, Phillies, Roy Oswalt, Jimmy Rollins, Ross Gload, Cole Hamels

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