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Close call for Hamels in Phils' loss


Close call for Hamels in Phils' loss
The Phillies lost a ball game yesterday, and they're lucky they didn't lose their best pitcher, too.

Ace lefthander Cole Hamels took a vicious line drive off the back of his pitching shoulder in the fourth inning of the Phils' 6-1 loss to Milwaukee at Citizens Bank Park.

As difficult as it was for Phillies players to swallow being no-hit for 71/3 innings by Brewers righthander Dave Bush, there was an undercurrent of relief in the home clubhouse after the game.

Hamels, branded by a Prince Fielder liner, was OK.

"When it hit him, you heard a lot of 'Oh, [shucks]!' in the dugout," said Matt Stairs, who broke up Bush's no-hitter with a pinch-hit homer in the eighth.

"It seemed like the ball came off the bat at about 1,000 m.p.h.," said first baseman Ryan Howard. "I heard it hit him. It was a scary moment."

The ball hit muscle on the back of Hamels' shoulder and rolled to Howard at first base. Fielder, one of the game's top sluggers (84 homers the last two seasons) legged it out for a single. Hamels was fortunate it didn't hit his elbow, or worse, his head. He actually wanted to stay in the game, but manager Charlie Manuel didn't want to take any chances.

"I understood that," Hamels said.

Hamels was treated with ice. He said he expects to make his next start Tuesday against Washington at home.

"I'll be fine," Hamels said. "I have a lot of fragile parts, so I'm fortunate it didn't hit me in a danger area. I just have a temporary tattoo of a Baseball on the back of my shoulder."

The new season has brought nothing but frustration for Hamels, who was the World Series MVP six months ago. His spring preparation was slowed by a balky elbow that ultimately claimed what would have been his first opening-day start. He struggled in his first two starts, getting racked for 19 hits and 12 runs in a pair of Phillies losses.

Yesterday, Hamels appeared to inch closer to top form. Five of his first six outs were strikeouts. He threw 34 pitches through three innings and 26 were strikes. He used a three-pitch mix that included a fastball that topped out at 91 m.p.h., his signature change-up, and a curveball, which had been noticeably absent in his last start.

In the fourth, Hamels allowed a one-out infield hit to Corey Hart, then hung a 2-1 change-up to Ryan Braun, who smacked a dart into the left-field seats. Down by 2-0, Hamels threw a first-pitch 89-m.p.h. fastball to Fielder, who belted it back at the pitcher.

"I worked really hard between starts," Hamels said. "I tried to bear down and locate my pitches. I tried to throw strikes so I could put hitters away. I felt I was on a good pace, pitching the way I'm capable of, then I got knocked out. It's frustrating."

Pitchers who get hit by a batted ball can sometimes be leery of getting back on the mound. Hamels, who described himself as the "ultimate competitor," expects no problems.

"I've been hit in worse spots," he said, mentioning the knee. "I've been hit ever since I was 8 or 9. You get used to it."

Manuel had conflicting emotions after the game. He was happy that Hamels was not hurt but frustrated that his club didn't hit a ball hard until Stairs' homer in the eighth.

"We didn't play very good," Manuel said.

Note. Catcher Carlos Ruiz, on the disabled list with a strained right ribcage, will begin a minor-league rehab assignment tomorrow at triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Contact staff writer Jim Salisbury at 215-854-4983 or jsalisbury@phillynews.com.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 24, 2009

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