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News » Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2009-04-11

Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2009-04-11

Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2009-04-11
Cole Hamels equaled career highs by allowing 11 hits and seven earned runs Friday at Coors Field, but the Phillies' ace left-hander insisted he isn't feeling any lingering effects from a left elbow problem that slowed him during spring training.

Well, then, what's wrong?

The problem is both simple and complex. Hamels doesn't usually have his full velocity in April. But he faced major league hitters in only three spring training starts (he also made three minor league starts), leaving him without much command of his signature changeup, a necessity until May when his velocity usually stabilizes.

Forced to leave the ball over the plate and armed with a fastball that averaged only about 86 mph, Hamels got torched in a 10-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies.

"Cole Hamels doesn't pitch at 86 mph," manager Charlie Manuel said. "He pitches at 88 to 93, and there's a huge difference. That tells me he's not quite ready yet. I think it's just a matter of the more that he pitches, his velocity and his command should come. You've got to remember he didn't throw a lot in spring training. He needs work. He's not real strong at the moment."

And that's the complicated part. The only way for Hamels to build velocity and sharpen his command is to keep making his starts, even if he's still in spring training form.

So, although Manuel left open the possibility that Hamels' next start, scheduled for Thursday at Washington, could be pushed back, both Hamels and pitching coach Rich Dubee don't believe that's necessary.

"Who knows when his arm speed is going to come?" Dubee said. "I don't know the date. But I know he needs the reps for sure."

Hamels said, "Getting into games, you have that adrenaline. You have to get that sort of work because that's what really pushes you to get that velocity, location, that understanding of how to get guys out."

Against the Rockies, Hamels had no chance. Garrett Atkins, hitless in 12 previous at-bats this season, hit an 88-mph fastball for a two-run home run. Brad Hawpe hit an 86-mph fastball for a double. Troy Tulowitzki hit a 78-mph changeup for a triple.

And Hamels threw only six curveballs, his third-best pitch, because the altitude affected its break.

"It really does put you in a hole, having an 86-mph fastball and a changeup that's off and on," Hamels said. "You're not going to win a game that way."

But, until he's ready, can the Phillies win when Hamels is on the mound?

"I'll talk to Dubes and I'll talk to Cole about it," Manuel said. "I don't want to say that he's going to miss a start. We'll just play it out right now. I want him out there when he's throwing good. I'm not saying there's something wrong with him. He's just not where I'd like for him to be."

ROCKIES 10, PHILLIES 3: Cole Hamels allowed seven runs in 3 2/3 innings and the Phillies lost for the third time in four games. Jayson Werth went 4-for-4 with a home run and one RBI after going 1-for-11 in the Phillies' first three games. Ryan Howard grounded into three double plays, a dubious feat accomplished only four times in the major leagues last season. Chase Utley went 2-for-3 and is batting .429 (6-for-14) through four games.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 11, 2009

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