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Tag:Cole Hamels
Posted on: August 9, 2011 2:47 pm
 

"Little pieces" add up to big things for Phillies

LOS ANGELES -- All credit to the all-world Phillies rotation. With Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels leading the way, it is pitching for a place in history.

And we've all seen the damage wreaked by a highly decorated lineup led by Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.

But you don't compile baseball's best record based behind just eight or nine players. And as such, the Phillies are getting plenty of help from these easily overlooked parts in their machine:

-- Reliever Antonio Bastardo: With closer Brad Lidge on the shelf for most of the season, Bastardo has played a key, late-innings role and currently is holding opponents to a .128 batting average -- second lowest among NL relievers. His 1.49 ERA is fifth-lowest among NL relievers.

-- Starter Vance Worley: With Joe Blanton done for the year, Worley is 8-1 with a 2.35 ERA and currently has won six consecutive decisions. He's fanned 66 hitters against only 28 walks in 84 1/3 innings.

-- Infielder Michael Martinez: With third baseman Placido Polanco hurt again, it is Martinez, plucked from the Nationals as a Rule V pick last winter, who is providing steady relief. Martinez's 15 RBI during the month of July ranked third among all NL rookies, behind Atlanta's Freddie Freeman (18) and the Padres' Jesus Guzman (18).

-- Outfielder John Mayberry Jr.: Acquired from Texas in a trade in November, 2008, Mayberry, 27, continues to develop into a serviceable backup outfielder with an intriguing future. Of his past 23 hits, 17 have gone for extra bases (and overall, 52.5 percent of his major league hits, 31 of 59, have been for extra bases).

-- Infielder Wilson Valdez: He's plugged in at second base, third base and shortstop at various times this season and, in an extra-innings pinch against the Reds on May 25, became the first player since Babe Ruth in 1921 to start a game in the field and then become the winning pitcher. Though light-hitting overall, Valdez is batting .390 with runners in scoring position this season.

Shane Victorino, twice a Rule V pick himself (the Phillies took him from the Padres in 2004 after the Padres took him from the Dodgers in 2002), raves about Martinez and the "energy" he brings.

"Little pieces," Victorino says. "It always takes 25 guys. Somebody gets hurt, somebody else steps in."

Recalling when the Phillies signed pitcher Pedro Martinez for the stretch run in '09, Victorino said he was extremely wary of Martinez because of the reputation the pitcher brought as a fiery headhunter. But Martinez went 5-1 for Philadelphia in nine starts, pitched the Phillies into position to beat the Dodgers in a key NLCS game and Victorino now calls Martinez "the greatest teammate I've ever had."

"Here, it's all about winning, and winning right now," Victorino says. "If you don't care about winning, don't show up.

"We have so many superstars in here -- MVPs, Cy Young winners, All-Stars, Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers. But Martinez is no different from me because it's all about winning."

That's the way it is throughout the Phillies' clubhouse right now, an impressive culture that is steamrolling everything in its path.

Likes: With the trade deadline having passed and at least a little more free time in August, looking forward to a big date night with my wife to see Crazy, Stupid Love sometime soon. ... Lots of TV to catch up on as well: Last couple episodes of Treme, last five episodes of Friday Night Lights (that's only with trepidation, though, because it's the last season and while I can't wait to see the last few FNLs, I don't want to get through them because then one of my favorite shows in recent memory will be done, sniff, sniff) and the first few episodes of Entourage. ... Haven't gotten all the way through it yet, but I'm liking Sky Full of Holes, the new Fountains of Wayne disc.

Dislikes: I realize there are plenty of parents out there who disagree with me, but man I hate to see summer dwindle down to its last few weeks before school starts again. Summer is never, ever long enough.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Then she wakes me with coffee
"And kisses my head
"And she starts to explain
"About something she's read
"I say, 'Darlin', you haven't heard a word that I've said'
"And I love that girl."

-- John Hiatt, I Love That Girl
Posted on: August 8, 2011 10:41 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2011 12:54 pm
 

"People are understanding how good we are"

LOS ANGELES -- Phillies centerfielder Shane Victorino declined Monday to address his three-game suspension for his role in Friday night's brawl in San Francisco.

But he was happy to discuss the latest test the Phillies passed with phlying colors, winning three of four games over the weekend and beating the Giants at their own game, pitching.

Statement series?

Naw, let's not go there Victorino said. But as the weeks roll by and the Phillies blaze on toward what is shaping up to be another very special season, let's just say that leaving the Giants in ruins over the weekend just reinforced what some folks have been believing for a long time.

"Best team in baseball," one scout says.

"I don't want to use the word 'statement'," Victorino said. "But it shows we can do it. Not that we ever doubted that we can, but they're the champs. To be the champs, you have to beat the champs.

"In October, it's all about 5-7-7 [the round-by-round best-of series']. We tip our caps to the Giants for beating us last year. But I think this was a test for us, and we're good.

"I think people are understanding how good we are. We won in San Francisco because of our pitching. And they didn't even face our No. 1."

Instead, Roy Halladay was slotted to pitch the series opener against the Dodgers here Monday night, and the Phillies are making Jimmy Rollins look conservative. It was Rollins who predicted in February the Phillies would win 100 games.

It made headlines at the time because, well, in February, any sort of bold statement makes headlines.

But all you can say as the Phils maintain a pace to win 103 games is, the season is playing out just as many thought it could for them.

Winners of nine of their past 10 heading into this Dodgers series, they owned the game's best record at 74-40. Last time they had played at least 113 games and suffered only 40 losses, it was 1976.

Charlie Manuel's club is an equal opportunity outfit, shredding left-handed starters (against whom they're 21-9) and right-handers (53-31) alike.

Though they're only seventh in the NL in runs scored, their pitching is so dominant that their run differential (+127) is third-best in the game, trailing only the Yankees (+167) and Boston (+144).

Phillies starters lead all major-league rotations in wins (55), ERA (2.96), strikesouts (640), complete games (14, six from Halladay), quality starts (76) and fewest runs allowed (261).

Are the Phillies reaching their potential that, as far back as spring training, was set in the stratosphere?

"It's hard for us to say because we're striving to get to the World Series and win it," starter Cole Hamels said. "It's definitely a good question for when we're in the World Series.

"We definitely like our chances. We're confident. Guys are at their peaks. In '08 when we ended up winning, we were trying to find it and we ended up finding it."

As for the San Francisco series, Hamels said, "We're playing the right type of baseball. That's what you have to do in August. It's very tough for teams. It's 100 degrees, you've been pitching for 22, 24 starts [Hamels is 13-6 with a 2.53 ERA in 24 starts], your body's fighting it, and you have to keep pushing.

"It's the countdown."

He meant for stretch-run baseball in September, and playoff ball in October.

But for the Phillies, there's a lot of counting going on right now.

And the numbers are adding up impressively.

Likes: GM Dave Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland extended in Detroit. They've earned their keep by keeping the Tigers relevant. ... A few days off in early August right after the trade deadline, summer sun still warm, the days long and free. ... Sandy Point in Ferndale, Wash., quarterback Jake Locker's land, right down there on Puget Sound. Beautiful. ... The oh-so-fresh halibut and salmon at Barlean's fishery down the road. Few things finer on the grill with the sun dropping behind the ocean water. ... The burritos at Chihuahua's in town. ... Jimmy Buffett's Encores disc. ... The new disc from John Hiatt, Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns. Not as good as Slow Turning or Perfectly Good Guitar, but that's setting the bar awfully high. Check out I Love That Girl, Detroit Made and Adios to California.

Dislikes: All the best to Colorado right-hander Juan Nicasio. One minute, you're pitching in the majors. The next, you've got a broken bone in your neck after being hit by a line drive, and you don't know if you'll ever pitch again. Tough summer for the Rockies. Hope we see Nicasio back soon.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Wrote a note, said 'Be back in a minute'
"Bought a boat and I sailed off in it
"Don't think anybody's gonna miss me anyway
"Mind on a permanent vacation
"The ocean is my only medication
"Wishin' my condition ain't ever gonna go away
"Now I'm knee deep in the water somewhere
"Got the blue sky breeze blowin' wind thru my hair
"Only worry in the world
"Is the tide gonna reach my chair
"Sunrise, there's a fire in the sky
"Never been so happy
"Never felt so high
"And I think I might have found me my own kind of paradise"

-- Zac Brown Band, Knee Deep

Posted on: June 21, 2011 11:39 pm
 

Rotation against Verlander in All-Star Game

LOS ANGELES -- Detroit's rotation could keep Justin Verlander from pitching in next month's All-Star Game, but an early look at the top pitchers in each league shows few other conflicts right now.

Unless weather fouls things up, both Boston's Josh Beckett (last projected first-half start: Friday, July 8) and the Angels' Jered Weaver (Thursday, July 7) should be available options for American League manager Ron Washington to start the July 12 game in Phoenix.

And in the NL, Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens and Philadelphia's Roy Halladay (both would start Wednesday, July 6) would be available to manager Bruce Bochy, as would the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw (Thursday, July 7) and, possibly, Philadelphia's Cole Hamels.

Hamels currently is projected to start on Tuesday, July 5, and the Phillies have an off day on July 6. If manager Charlie Manuel stays on rotation, Hamels would not pitch again until, possibly, the All-Star Game. If Manuel decides to skip a starter on an off day Thursday (unlikely), then Hamels could wind up starting on Sunday the 10th.

The problem for Verlander, who has one no-hitter and a couple of near-misses this year, is that, barring rainouts, he'll start the Tigers' final game of the first half on Sunday, July 10.

Looking both to keep pitchers healthy and to give All-Star managers real options, baseball last year instituted a rule prohibiting anybody pitching Sunday from working in the All-Star Game. Those pitchers named to the team are still All-Stars and can be in uniform in the dugout, they're just not eligible to play.

Really, it's a no-brainer that for a manager not to juggle his rotation to accommodate the All-Star Game, and that's essentially what Tigers skipper Jim Leyland said this week. His first responsibility is to win games for the Tigers, period.

"Our schedule is what it is," he said. "Our rotation falls the way it does."

Though his Dodgers are buried in fourth place in the NL West -- unlike the Tigers, who are battling for the AL Central title -- Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly says he will handle Kershaw the same way Leyland is handling Verlander.

"I think if his spot comes up Sunday, he pitches Sunday," Mattingly said. "I don't think we can start shifting things around because of the All-Star Game.

"It's an honor to be chosen. If a guy is chosen and he's not able to pitch, you have enough slots [to replace him] and it's still an honor."

Posted on: February 14, 2011 7:37 pm
 

Stuff my editors whacked from the column

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Outtakes from a day with a Phillies' rotation that is moving into history's on-deck circle (maybe):

-- It bears repeating, because Cliff Lee mentioned it a couple of times Monday: He signed with the Phillies, he said, because "it was really about what team gave me the best chance to win world championships over the life of the contract."

He did not say he signed with Philly because it was best for his family. He did not say his wife loved it there. He did not say he signed to be close to Philly cheesesteak sandwich heaven (though he did allow, "I like Philly cheesesteaks. But that had nothing to do with me coming back to Philly.").

"I think Philadelphia fans should feel real proud about that," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro said, referring not to the scrumptious sandwiches, but to Lee's feeling that Philadelphia can become Titletown. "I think things really started rolling as far as putting us back on the map, so to speak, when Jim Thome came here [in 2003].

"Ed [Wade, former Phillies GM] did a fantastic job bringing Jim here.. I think it legitimized what we were trying to do."

-- Lee's decision to bypass the Yankees and Texas reinforces what has been becoming fact these past few years: Philadelphia has become a destination for ace pitchers. Lee by choice, Roy Halladay waving no-trade powers to land with the Phillies and Roy Oswalt doing the same.

Which is very interesting, given that Citizens Bank Park has earned a unanimous reputation for being a hitter's haven.

"It's kind of a testament to the fans' support, and to winning, too," Amaro said. "It's a testament to the faith that our ownership group has in the front office to make these moves. It's a testament to all in our organization creating an atmosphere where Philadelphia has become a place where people like to go, from the guards who watch the cars in the players' lot to the people who take care of the wives' lounge, the medical staff.

"We make a concerted effort to build relationships here."

-- Manager Charlie Manuel opted to pass when asked which of his Murderers' Row rotation members would get the opening day start.

"We've got a chance to have a special club," Manuel said. "We've got a guy who threw two no-hitters and won a Cy Young [Roy Halladay] last year, and the other three guys standing there are tremendous pitchers.

"We're going to have a No. 1 starter going every day, so it doesn't really matter."

Of the Phillies' quintet, Cole Hamels is the only one never to have started on opening day. Halladay did it in Toronto and in Philadelphia last year, Lee's done it, Oswalt did it plenty in Houston and Joe Blanton did it in Oakland.

"The real good part of it is, it doesn't matter who you pick, it doesn't faze the other guys," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "I don't think any of them has a big enough ego to say 'I have to have the ball on opening day.'

"They all want the ball 33 to 35 times."

Sunblock Day? It was perfect. High right around 70 degrees.

Likes: Great line from Yankees' starter CC Sabathia, that he lost a bunch of weight over the winter because he "stopped eating Capt'n Crunch." I would have picked A.J. Burnett as the Captain Crunch eater of that group. ... Phillies pitching prospect Justin DeFratus, who pitched in the Arizona Fall League last year, taking it all in early Monday morning before the first workout for pitchers and catchers. "It's been crazy here so far," DeFratus said ... Philadelphia GM Ruben Amaro wearing a baseball cap with the final scoreboard line score from Halladay's playoff no-hitter against Cincinnati stitched onto the front. ... Arcade Fire winning a Grammy for best album for The Suburbs. Excellent. Great performances, too. ... Winter's Bone.

Dislikes: Getting to the gate for your flight at 6 a.m. and hearing the attendant say, "Sorry, this flight is delayed until at least 10." ... Missed Bob Dylan on the Grammy's Sunday night because of a too-long travel day.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Kids wanna be so hard
"But in my dreams we're still screamin' and runnin' through the yard
"And all of the walls that they built in the '70s finally fall
"And all of the houses they build in the '70s finally fall
"Meant nothin' at all
"Meant nothin' at all
"It meant nothin'
"Sometimes I can't believe it
"I'm movin' past the feeling
"Sometimes I can't believe it
"I'm movin' past the feeling and into the night
"So can you understand?
"Why I want a daughter while I'm still young
"I wanna hold her hand
"And show her some beauty
"Before this damage is done"

-- Arcade Fire, The Suburbs

Posted on: October 18, 2010 1:54 am
Edited on: October 18, 2010 1:54 am
 

Memo to Cole Hamels: Re. pitching Cody Ross

PHILADELPHIA -- Looking like Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds rolled into one, San Francisco right fielder Cody Ross belted another home run in the Giants' 6-1 loss to the Phillies in Game 2 of the NL Championship Series here Sunday, giving him three home runs in two games.

That ranks second-most in Giants history in LCS play. Jeffrey Leonard holds the record with four in 1987.

Meantime, with four homers in his last three postseason games, Ross is one of four players in Giants history with at least four in single postseason. The others: Barry Bonds hit eight in 2002, Rich Aurilia six in '02 and Leonard four in '87.

So, how might Phillies starter Cole Hamels want to approach Ross in Game 3 at AT&T Park?

"Don't throw it down and in," said Roy Oswalt, who did just that in surrendering Ross' fifth-inning blast Sunday. "The last three balls that he hit were in the exact same spot. Just bad pitches."

True. Each of the homers Ross smashed against Roy Halladay in Game 1 also were middle-in.

"I mean, throwing it right into his bat, pretty much," Oswalt said. "If you can make your pitches, you are going to do well. But if you miss down-and-in, that's pretty much where he's hitting them."

In Ross' third plate appearance Sunday night, he nearly got another one. He drove center fielder Shane Victorino all the way back to the warning track before Victorino hauled it in.

That was a fastball over the plate, too, but not quite as inside as the three Ross drove over the left-field fence.

Does Ross pretty much figure he's seen the last of the inside fastballs for awhile?

"I'm not really worried about where they're pitching me," Ross said. "I'm just trying to see it."

He's been doing a good enough job of that that the Philadelphia crowd has started giving him the business. Playing the villain isn't exactly a role Ross is familiar with, given his heretofore nondescript days with the Florida Marlins, but it's a role he'll take.

"That's what you want as a player," Ross said. "I know they're not going to cheer for me. It definitely doesn't make me feel like I should stop.

"I want to keep going. It's kind of a weird feeling."

Posted on: October 16, 2010 5:31 pm
 

Hangin' in weight room with Halladay -- or not

Roy Halladay's work ethic is legendary, to the point where even the Phillies couldn't believe their first impression.

Halladay's regular spring training routine was to arrive in the weight room in Clearwater, Fla., by 5:30 or 5:45 a.m. By the time most of the rest of the Phillies arrived at 7:30 or 8, Halladay was finished with that part of his day and on to something else.

When I visited the Phillies' camp, a couple of players talked about how this was a perfect example of his competitiveness. A coach told me it isn't that, it's just that Halladay is so focused on what he's doing that he did not want to share the weight room equipment. As he moves through his circuit, he wants what he wants when he wants it.

Whatever, his near-maniacal zeal was legendary in Toronto, and it's already the stuff of legend in Philadelphia.

"We had some guys try to latch on and stay with him this spring," pitching coach Rich Dubee said Friday before the Phillies worked out in preparation for Game 1. "That lasted a short period.

"If you're going to try and stay with him, you'd better start in the off-season."

No kidding.

One of those who experimented with the early-bird special in the weight room with Halladay this spring was fellow starter Cole Hamels.

"I did that one time, I think," Hamels said, chuckling. "I realized it was insanity.

"I had a newborn. I needed every ounce of sleep I could get. He would get there at 5:30, I was waking up at 5:30. That means he was waking up at 4:30."

Likes: Roy Halladay vs. Tim Lincecum to start the NLCS playoffs. What fun. ... I don't think we've heard enough of this Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira as former Rangers story. I think we'll hear much more of it before this ALCS is finished. ... Tweet of the Day, and I had to pass this one alone, from ESPN baseball writer Jorge Arangure late Friday night when the Rangers blew the 5-0 lead to the Yankees in the eighth inning with a certain former President and Rangers owner in attendance: "I bet George W Bush authorized a sign that read "Mission Accomplished" after the 7th inning." ... The Conan O'Brien ads they're papering the house with during the playoffs are pretty funny. Which is no small thing, given how most ads they consistently blast at us start bad and quickly turn grating. ... Congratulations to the Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central Falcons and Coach Jack Giarmo, who clinched another Huron League high school football title with Friday's 63-21 whipping of Milan. Excellent work to all as the tradition continues. Great job. ... Great run Saturday morning down Ben Franklin Parkway, past the Philadelphia Art Museum and along the Schuylkill River. Beautiful, especially the trees along the river. ... Geography lesson for the day: How do you pronounce "Schuylkill"? I admit, not being from the Philadelphia area, I didn't know. Until I checked with a bellman at the hotel when I returned: "Skoo-cull." ... John Lennon, still relevant on what would have been his 70th birthday the other day.

Dislikes: Bedbugs. I keep hearing about them. I've yet to see them.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"People asking questions lost in confusion
"Well I tell them there's no problem, only solutions
"Well they shake their heads and they look at me as if I've lost my mind
"I tell them there's no hurry
"I'm just sitting here doing time"

-- John Lennon, Watching the Wheels

 

Posted on: February 20, 2010 2:27 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2010 10:19 pm
 

Mets' Santana shows zip in first mound session

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- First workout of the spring for Mets pitchers and catchers Saturday, and probably the most notable thing of all was this: Ace Johan Santana threw a slider during his bullpen session.

Threw all of his pitches, in fact, and the man whose season ended with surgery to remove five bone chips after only 25 starts last summer walked off the Port St. Lucie practice fields with a big smile.

"His bullpen was real good," Mets general manager Omar Minaya said. "We noticed great extension that he didn't have last year. He feels real good about himself. We got to see the slider, which we didn't see much of last year. So he's in a very good spot right now."

Now it will be incumbent upon both the Mets and Santana to keep it that way. The club already has mapped out a careful schedule for him this spring, according to which he will not make his first Grapefruit League start until the second week of games.

The Mets think that a more conservative schedule will allow Santana to stay healthy while still preparing him to reach the 90-pitch range by opening day.

Manager Jerry Manuel made several references following the workout to keeping key players healthy and maybe slowing down some of the recovering Mets.

"Johan's really feeling well about himself," Manuel said, before adding of Santana and shortstop Jose Reyes: "We're almost going to have to pull the reins back. They're really getting after it.

"We don’t want to peak in February."

Sunblock Day? Wooo-hooo! Sun's out and temperature soared into the 70s today. Baseball weather is here.

Likes: Always one of the better guys in baseball, Johan Santana spent a long while signing autographs for Mets fans when he finished his workout Saturday. Lots of grateful fans. And one pitcher who is extremely grateful to be healthy again. ... Roy Halladay's work ethic is as good as there is in the game (he's been arriving at the Phillies' complex at 5:45 a.m. to get his workouts in) and Cole Hamels' description of him ("he's quiet but he doesn't make himself disappear") is perfect. ... The baseball newsstand at Baseball Think Factory, an excellent site and a great way to keep up with good stories and smart analysis. Plus, priceless smart alecky comments from the guys who run the shop, Jim Furtado and Repoz. ... Barefoot drive across the state of Florida on Friday was pleasant, zipping across Route 70 -- where I passed a place to go hunting for wild boar. I kept on cruising (and would have done so even had I been wearing proper footwear, for driving or hunting). ... The book Game Change is absolutely riveting. Authors Mark Halperin and John Heileman's insider account of the 2008 presidential election is fast-moving and stocked with terrific behind-the-scenes anecdotes. ... Can't get me enough grouper in Florida. The blackened grouper Caribbean style with black beans and rice was a winner the other night at the Abbey Road Bar and Grill in Jupiter, Fla. ... Gaslight Anthem's The '59 Sound is fabulous, one of the best discs I've obtained in the last few years (and a shout out to my hip bro for the birthday gift). Whip-smart lyrics and full-bore rock 'n' roll with no coming up for air.

Dislikes: Love the fact that we've reached the point where baseball feels it must formally tell players not to bring guns and knives into the clubhouses. Not.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"It's funny how the night moves
"Humming a song from 1962
"We were always waiting... always waiting
"We were always waiting for something to happen
"I saw tail lights last night In a dream about my first wife
Everybody leaves and I'd expect as much from you
I saw tail lights last night in a dream about my whole life
Everybody leaves, so why, why wouldn't you?"

-- Gaslight Anthem, Great Expectations

 

Posted on: February 18, 2010 3:54 pm
 

Anger management with Cole Hamels

Cole Hamels, the 2008 World Series Most Valuable Player who never lived up to the hype in '09, is working hard this spring on perfecting his change-up and developing a cut fastball.

But what's really important, according to his pitching coach, is that Hamels control his demeanor in 2010.

"The biggest problem with Cole last year, in my opinion, was that he pitched with a lot of anger," Rich Dubee said Thursday after the first workout of the spring for Phillies pitchers and catchers. "With himself, mostly.

"He's such a perfectionist. You don't pitch with anger, especially with yourself."

Dubee and various Phillies, including veteran lefty Jamie Moyer, talked with Hamels about it as '09 rolled on, but once the struggles began with a sore elbow in the spring and then spilled over into lack of results on the field, Hamels never could catch up. He finished 10-11 with a 4.32 ERA -- more than a run higher than his 3.09 ERA in '08.

"His approach wasn't very good last year," said Dubee, who added that "it's been addressed."

Hamels' anger and frustration was evident in the way he snapped at the ball on the field when it was being returned from the catcher, and in the way he stomped around on the mound at various times between pitches after serving up a key hit or missing on an important pitch.

"I think that's where the expectations come into play," said Hamels, who never came close to living up to Cy Young predictions in '09. "You have a lot more expectations, and I let that get to me. I became emotional instead of relaxing and letting it happen."

Hamels laughed when told Dubee said part of the fix might be in Hamels viewing video of his churlish behavior.

"I was there. I remember those times," he said. "I don't need to watch the video. I understand what I did wrong."

Among other things, Hamels started throwing much earlier this winter than he has in the past. Dubee said that's evident simply from watching him play long toss during workouts this week.

"You watch him long toss, and he's far beyond where he's ever been in spring training," said the pitching coach, who added that he's quite impressed with Hamels because, after struggling last year, Hamels "could have gone home and sulked."

"I'm a lot more in shape arm-wise than in recent years," Hamels said.

With new ace Roy Halladay aboard, if Hamels pitches the way the Phillies know he can, then they again think they'll be the team to beat in the NL this season.

"I think what he needed was a breath of fresh air in the off season," Dubee said.

Sunblock Day? Yes because the sun was out, but what was really needed was a wind block. "I'll tell you something: I've got three shirts on," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said following Thursday's workout. "And I needed a jacket."


Likes: Phillies manager Charlie Manuel down 56 pounds from last year, proudly exhibiting his jeans in the clubhouse the other day and calling them "my Nutrisystem jeans". ... Now we see why Indians assistant general manager Chris Antonetti spurned interest by other organizations when they wanted to interview him when they had GM openings. Congratulations to Mark Shapiro's hard-working assistant on being named GM-in-waiting Thursday. And given the cratering economy and attendance, Godspeed, Chris. ... Chien-Ming Wang, Washington National. ... How about the double-overtime Notre Dame-Louisville game Wednesday night, a 91-89 Cardinals win? What a great, great game. ... Early Seger Volume 1 is a terrific -- and lacking -- CD. Lacking because, Bob Seger has got to have far more in the vaults than one small disc. Somebody needs to talk with Seger's manager, Punch Andrews, and scold him to release not only more music, but a DVD of Seger's last concert tour a couple of years ago. That there isn't more available -- video and audio -- from one of the all-time masters is criminal. ... The grilled grouper with mango salsa at Bonefish Grill the other night was very tasty.

Dislikes: Get ready for some serious lobbying for a new stadium for Tampa Bay. Rays president Stuart Sternberg said on local radio the other day that the club's $70 million payroll definitely will be chopped next year and insinuated that it would be below $60 million. Commissioner Bud Selig followed that up with an appearance at the annual Florida Governor's Baseball Dinner on Wednesday, during which he said "It almost boggles my mind that there's a debate. They need a new stadium."

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"It may be raining
"But there's a rainbow above you"

-- The Eagles, Desperado

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com