Rangers’ Hamels ignores trade talk, focuses on Angels

As speculation continues to build that Texas Rangers left-hander Cole Hamels will soon be traded to a playoff-contending team, he expects to mute any distractions Saturday night against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium.

“I have a job to do, and it’s to win here,” he told reporters earlier in the week. “This is where I want to be.”

Hamels has been down this road before. After throwing the first solo no-hitter of his career on July 25, 2015, he was traded to the Rangers six days later by the Philadelphia Phillies, where he spent the previous 10 1/2 seasons.

Hamels, 34, helped the Rangers clinch the AL West title that year by beating the Angels on the final day of the regular season.

Now it’s the Rangers (24-36) who might soon be sellers, and Hamels represents one of their prime assets. He’s signed through this season with Texas holding a $20-million team option for 2019.

“All the decisions are not up to me,” Hamels said. “The only decision I have in my hand is to throw the baseball and get guys out. That’s what I’ve been able to learn with the previous experiences, and just kind of go from there. In a way, it simplifies things.”

Hamels (3-5, 3.74 ERA) had four losses before the end of April for the first time in his 13-year career, but the four-time All Star rebounded with a solid May, posting a 2-1 record and a 3.20 ERA.

Still, the Rangers are deep in last place in the AL West and have dropped four straight to the Angels (31-27). Los Angeles won the series opener 6-0 on Friday night, chasing 45-year-old right-hander Bartolo Colon with two runs in each of the first three innings.

Despite the team’s struggles and his trade rumors, Hamels said it hasn’t been difficult focusing on his current responsibilities.

“I’m just here to play, trying to remain healthy and maintain what I can do out on the field,” he said. “Just getting good results and enjoying playing the game of baseball. I think that’s really all I care about.”

Hamels is 4-2 in 10 career starts against the Angels with a 2.82 ERA. A San Diego native, he’s 2-1 at Angel Stadium with a 2.16 mark.

Angels right-hander Garrett Richards (4-4, 3.67) will try to bounce back from a rough outing Sunday at the New York Yankees. Richards gave up three runs and walked five in 2 1/3 innings, the difference in the 3-1 loss that prevented the Angels from winning the series. Richards dropped to 0-5 in his career against the Yankees with an 8.42 ERA.

“I’ve got to be better than that,” he told reporters after Sunday’s loss.

Richards also walked five batters against the Rangers on April 9, causing him to exit after 4 1/3 innings and fail to register the win in the 8-3 victory in Texas.

He has fared well overall in his career against the Rangers, however.

His 9-4 mark against Texas represents his most wins against any major league team. He has a 3.11 ERA in 22 appearances against the Rangers, which includes 18 starts.