Q & A with Phillies ace Cole Hamels
The updated Cole Hamels bio: World Series MVP last October, Sports Illustrated cover boy this spring, mediocre star-crossed pitcher in the first half of the season.
His freak injuries are behind him now. His 5-5 record and 4.87 ERA before the All-Star break are old news. Hamels is back, the Phillies are back, and the addition of Blue Jays right-hander Roy Halladay or Indians lefty Cliff Lee could make the team favorites to win back-to-back World Series.
The Phillies host the Cardinals this weekend in a showdown of division leaders (Saturday, MLB on Fox, 4:10 p.m.). Hamels is not scheduled to pitch; he beat the Padres on Thursday night in his second strong performance since the break. Still, he has plenty of thoughts on what went wrong for him in the first half, the Phillies' resurgence and the tantalizing possibility of the club making a major trade before Friday's non-waiver deadline.
I spoke with Hamels by telephone Wednesday night. He was his usual honest, enthusiastic self, full of praise for his teammates and excited about the challenges ahead.
Q: Do you feel you are close to where you want to be, back to the old Cole Hamels?
A: I do. I've learned a lot about winning the World Series, the opportunities that come with winning the World Series, a few of the most random and interesting sort of injuries and events. It's almost like I didn't have a lucky rabbit's foot or something.
I would make a pitch; most of the time it would be a good pitch and I would get an out. But I wasn't getting outs. Being able to start over in the second half is good mentally. The first half is over. In the second half, I can just go back to being myself.
Q: Looking back, what happened in the first half?
A: I want to be the guy my teammates can count on. I would try to prevent bad innings from happening. But when they happened, I didn't know how to handle it. I wasn't able to get through games. I'm a pitcher. I'm going to give up runs. I need to hold the opponents to one run instead of two or three.
(Teammate) Jamie (Moyer) says, "You're always one pitch away." It's something I totally forgot about. I would think, "I have to throw this and that and this." But Jamie said, "No, you're one pitch away." I had to do things to make it simple. I was making it more complicated than it needed to be.