LOS ANGELES – In an effort to get struggling Cole Hamels untracked, the Phillies have adjusted the order of their starting pitching rotation.
Hamels was supposed to make his next start Tuesday in Pittsburgh. He instead will pitch Thursday in Pittsburgh.
“We just want to give him a blow and see if it won’t help him some, see if it can get him feeling good about himself,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “He might benefit by clearing his head.”
Manuel insisted that Hamels does not have a physical issue.
“He’s totally healthy,” Manuel said. “He’s fine. As a matter of fact, he’s very fine.”
The adjustment in the rotation means Jonathan Pettibone and John Lannan will pitch the first two games in Pittsburgh on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Phils are off Monday.
Regardless of how the Phils set up their rotation for Pittsburgh, Hamels would have had three starts remaining before the all-star break. He now lines up to pitch Thursday in Pittsburgh, July 9 at home and July 14 at home. That is the last game before the all-star break.
Hamels is 2-11 with a 4.58 ERA in 17 starts. He leads the majors in losses. The Phils are 3-14 in his starts. The left-hander has at times pitched very well, but other times has struggled with command and holding leads. Lately, he has shown signs of frustration.
Pitching coach Rich Dubee came up with the idea to give Hamels a little mental health break.
“We just want to give him a little breath of fresh air, let him get away from it, relieve his mind and let him relax some,” Dubee said. “It’s like a hitter in a slump. You give him a couple of days to not think about it. Instead of four days between starts he’s getting six.”
Dubee recalled that Cliff Lee had a difficult first half last season and seemed to come back recharged after the all-star break. He hopes this mini-break will help Hamels in a similar way.
Hamels threw a bullpen session Saturday. He declined comment on the rotation adjustment.
“I don’t know if he was receptive, but he accepted it,” Dubee said. “We didn’t have a big knock-down, drag-out fight about it. When you break down all the starts, it doesn’t matter. He’ll have the same number of starts before the all-star break.”