Hamels' sounding board

Posted: June 07, 2013

SOMETIMES THE phone rang in Dunedin or Clearwater. Sometimes it rang wherever Cole Hamels happened to be pitching that day. Sometimes the conversation took place the next day, when the frustration had subsided a bit.

But over the last trying month, the phone call would be made. And it would be answered. And whether it was Roy Halladay calling Cole Hamels or Cole Hamels calling Roy Halladay, the topic was pretty much the same, about a well-pitched game that ended in a loss, or more recently, about the aggregate psychological effect such losses have on a pitcher.

"There are a lot of things out of his control right now," Halladay said in the Phillies dugout before Hamels took the mound against the Marlins yesterday. "It happens to everybody. There are games where you don't score runs. There's games where you don't pitch as well. He's gotten the short end of the stick quite a bit this year. So many factors go into it. He's going to be fine. The biggest thing for him is to stay the path. To continue to prepare himself the right way. Go out and pitch with a positive attitude."

Harvey Dorfman died in February 2011, but like any good guru, his words live on through his books, and through his pupils. Halladay is probably his most famous one, and Jamie Moyer's career was undoubtedly a testament to Dorfman's teachings, but less known is that Colbert Michael Hamels has his own dog-eared copies of Dorfman's sports psychiatry books, most notably "The Mental ABC's of Pitching."

"I think I've read them more than [Halladay] has," Hamels said of Dorfman's books. "I just never met him like Roy has."

He is, then, a second-generation disciple of the man's teachings, introduced by Moyer, expanded through his relationship with Halladay. As Hamels pointed out after yesterday's 6-1 victory over the Marlins snapped his six-game losing streak, the lockers of the two men are separated by only a door, and so these kind of discussions are hardly new.

"Unfortunately," Hamels said, "he's not there right next to me to talk to like we normally do."

Halladay has been in town this week so the Phillies' medical staff can monitor his progress. There was a lot of hope and promise within that progress, Halladay lacing cautious optimism with bold predictions of a late-season return to the rotation.

The inflamed bursa found and removed from the back of his shoulder has restored range of motion that he hasn't had since he arrived in Philadelphia. That means his arm is freer and less obstructed than when he pitched his perfect game and playoff no-hitter.

Hence, the bold statements from the future Hall of Famer.

"My gut feeling right now is that I will be back," he said. "I can tell you I feel a lot better than I thought I would at this point. It's a week-to-week process. And there could be bumps in the road. But as of right now, the way things have been going, I don't see any reason why I shouldn't be back this year."

For now, though, his 3- and 4-hour rehab workouts will take place at the Phillies' spring-training complex in Clearwater. There he can have the undistracted attention of team trainers and medical personnel, and he will not feel as if he is in the way of teammates preparing to play.

"It's important to be around the team," he said. "But, first and foremost, I'm not a coach yet. And I'm going to go where I need to go to get the best work I need to get done. The trainers here just don't have that kind of time to dedicate to one player who's not playing in games."

Still, it was interesting that Hamels' best outing in weeks coincided with Halladay's presence in the locker room. Gone were the too-fine pitches and full counts that cluttered Hamels' starts over the last 3 weeks, leading to early departures and frustrating losses. Of the 108 pitches he threw in striking out 11 Marlins over seven innings of work, 81 were strikes.

"What I learned from a couple of weeks ago is I can't control the games as much as I thought," he said. "And when you're trying to be too fine, you're just putting yourself in a really bad situation. I think that's what I was doing. Walking guys. When you have 3-2 counts on almost every hitter, you're not going to win. And you're not going to last long in the game. That's not how I have pitched the baseball over the last couple of years . . . I was a little out of my element. I guess I'm human. It happens sometimes."

Halladay knows the feeling. Getting out of those funks often meant a phone call to Harvey, maybe even a visit. Now it is he who mentors Hamels, who is the man on the other line, who is the reassuring visitor.

"There's no question that he still has the same stuff and that he's going to be successful," Halladay said. "He's going to be fine. He is going to be that leader. He is going to be that guy.

Today on PhillyDailyNews.com : Another homer for Domonic Brown and the rest of the Phillies' notebook.

Email: donnels@phillynews.com

On Twitter: @samdonnellon

Columns: ph.ly/Donnellon

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