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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, April 3, 2010

MLB: Good and bad news for Phillies’ Hamels

By Ray Parrillo
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Charlie Manuel was hoping Cole Hamels would use his final spring training appearance to give tangible evidence that the lefthander was prepared to put his forgettable 2009 season behind him.

The Phillies' manager will have to wait until the games begin to count.

Hamels came up short in his quest to find a bit of a groove for his scheduled start against Washington next week. The Pittsburgh Pirates got to him for three runs and eight hits in three innings in an exhibition game Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.

Hamels threw 59 pitches, 40 for strikes. The good news for Hamels was that he walked none, struck out five, and didn't get torched. Seven of the eight hits were singles, two of which didn't leave the infield.

The Phillies defeated the Pirates, 5-3.

Hamels had six outings during spring training. In the final three, he allowed 15 runs, 14 earned, in 131/3 innings. In the six games, he had a 6.00 ERA and gave up 29 hits in 24 innings.

Of course, it's risky to come to judgments based on spring training results, and afterward, an upbeat Hamels pronounced himself ready to start the season.

"Oh, definitely," he said. "I feel a lot stronger than I have in recent years, and that's huge. And with all the work I've done with all my pitches, I feel really comfortable."

Hamels said his goal was to throw strikes and get better command of his curveball and cutter. Last season, he too frequently abandoned his curveball because he lacked confidence in it.

"I feel confident now that I can throw it again and again for strikes," he said. "My whole goal was just to go out there and try to throw strikes, just try to work both sides of the plate."

His out pitch remains the change-up.

"I didn't throw enough change-ups because I was trying to work on the curveball and cutter, so I kind of got away from it," he said.

Before the game, Manuel said, "Cole's in tremendous shape. He's ready to pitch. Of course, I'd like to see him go out there and be sharp with his command, throw quality strikes. That's what I'd like to see.

"I think he's ready. But I can sit here and say that all I want. The season's going to tell."