Angry exit: Hamels clearly peeved after latest loss

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Angry exit: Hamels clearly peeved after latest loss

BOX SCORE

MIAMI – The frustration has finally caught up with Cole Hamels.

No other conclusion could be drawn after the pitcher made an angry beeline out of the visiting clubhouse after suffering his seventh loss of the season in a game in which he pitched very well Monday night.

“Nope,” Hamels told reporters as he stomped toward the door after the lowly Miami Marlins beat the Phillies, 5-1 (see Instant Replay).

Hamels had a right to be ticked off.

He struck out 10 batters and walked none in six innings of two-run ball. Why only six innings? Because manager Charlie Manuel, desperate for a run, any run, had to lift Hamels at 89 pitches for a pinch-hitter in the seventh. The move failed to produce the tying run, which was not surprising because the Phillies seldom score when Hamels pitches.

“Ten Ks and no walks and we only put up one run,” said Domonic Brown. “That’s very tough on me and I’m pretty sure it’s tough on everyone else in here. We’ve just got to do a better job.”

The Phils have scored just 20 runs in the 62 2/3 innings that Hamels has pitched this season. In Hamels’ last eight starts, the Phils have scored just 13 runs while he has been in the game.

This has left Hamels with a 1-7 record. The Phillies are 1-9 in his 10 starts.

Now, Hamels has to take some of the blame for that record. He’s had a few poor starts this season. But this wasn’t one of them. He had his best fastball of the season. Pitching coach Rich Dubee said Hamels was “electric.”

In the absence of the pitcher, Dubee was asked about Hamels’ apparent frustration. Interestingly, Dubee said Hamels had been experiencing some frustration but the pitching coach said he did not see any Monday night.

“Actually this was a nice breakthrough for him,” Dubee said. “His stuff was electric tonight. He was 93 to 95.

“He’d been a little tense [in previous starts]. There’s a lot of things going on. He’s an accountable guy. He’s got the new contract. Roy [Halladay] going down. That puts a little burden on him. Not winning games. It’s weighed on him. But I thought tonight he was exceptional.”

Dubee said he did not know why Hamels would not speak with reporters after the game, but he did allude to the run-support issue when he mentioned that “tight games” had weighed on Hamels.

“Again, I think today was a big breakthrough,” Dubee said. “I think you saw electric stuff. I think it got to the point where instead of pitching away from bats and worrying about not getting runs, he got back into the mode of attacking hitters. No walks, one three-ball count. That’s Cole Hamels’ style.”

Moments before Hamels left the clubhouse in a huff, Manuel said he was concerned about the pitcher’s mindset in the wake of mounting losses and little run support.

“Yeah, I’m worried about that,” Manuel said. “I think Cole expects to be the big pitcher on our team and he expects to win and it’s hard not to get upset when you … He pitched good tonight. But at the same time, he needs some runs.

“He needs to pitch with a lead some time and have room to breathe and room if he makes a mistake. Yeah, that’s a concern of mine. I don’t know what we’re going to do about it.”

Facing the worst team and the worst offense in the National League, Hamels allowed single runs in the first and sixth innings.

That was two too many with Alex Sanabia (3-6) tying up the Phillies’ bats like so many pitchers before him.

The Phils got one run back on Brown’s solo homer in the second inning, but that was it for the night. Adding insult to injury, Chad Qualls, the man who contributed to a number of blown Phillies’ leads last year, got the final three outs for the Marlins.

The Phillies (21-24) have been held to two or fewer runs in 18 of 45 games -- 40 percent of their schedule.

Chances of a breakout Tuesday night are not good as the Phils will face right-hander Jose Fernandez. In two starts against the Phils this season, Fernandez has pitched 13 shutout innings and allowed just three hits. He has registered 14 strikeouts and walked just three.

“It’s May,” Brown said. “Time to get going. It has to start tomorrow. That’s a tough guy we’re facing. We’ve got to hit some balls hard.”

The Marlins have the NL’s worst record at 13-32. Four of their wins have come against the Phillies.

“Against us they score,” Manuel lamented.

Phillies officially sign outfielder Michael Saunders, DFA Severino Gonzalez

Phillies officially sign outfielder Michael Saunders, DFA Severino Gonzalez

The Phillies on Thursday officially announced the signing of outfielder Michael Saunders to a one-year deal with a club option for 2018. 

According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, Saunders will make $9 million this season with the Phillies and the club option for 2018 will be worth $11 million with escalators potentially pushing it to $14 million.

Saunders, 30, is the left-handed hitting outfield bat the Phils were seeking. He hit 24 home runs for the Blue Jays last season in his walk year, making the AL All-Star team before slumping in the second half.

Saunders hit .298/.372/.551 with 16 homers in 82 games for the Blue Jays before the All-Star break, then hit .178/.282/.357 with eight homers in 58 games after.

He had a good year against same-handed pitching, hitting .275 with a .927 OPS and eight homers against lefties. 

He'll likely start in right field for the Phillies, with Odubel Herrera in center and Howie Kendrick in left (see Phils' projected lineup).

It was important to Phillies GM Matt Klentak that the player he signed to fill the spot in the outfield was not going to block young outfielders like Roman Quinn, Nick Williams and others.

On a one-year deal, Saunders came relatively cheap to the Phils, lingering in free agency as other hitters found contracts. In the middle of last summer, Saunders seemed poised for a multi-year contract like the four-year, $52 million deal Josh Reddick signed with the Astros. His second half cost him some money.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Saunders, the Phillies designated right-hander Severino Gonzalez for assignment.

Tommy Joseph focused on earning first base job, taking more walks

Tommy Joseph focused on earning first base job, taking more walks

There was no better story of personal triumph on the Phillies' roster than Tommy Joseph in 2016.

Dumped from the 40-man roster and passed over by 29 other teams on the waiver wire and in the Rule 5 draft in 2015, he reported to minor-league camp with his career on the line last spring.

Two months later, thanks to good health and a molten bat, Joseph's career began to spike upward.

But 4½ months in the big leagues and the promise of a starting job in the majors in 2017 hasn't changed Joseph's outlook or the mindset he will take into spring training camp next month.

He's still going to scrap and claw for everything, just like he did a year ago when he was fighting for his baseball life after a series of concussions put his career in jeopardy.

"I'm preparing the same way I did last winter," Joseph said during an offseason stop at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday.

"The job is not given to me. I still have to win it. I'm not going to walk in and have it. Obviously, it's mine to take and I plan on going in and winning the job."

Joseph, 25, earned a significant slice of the starting first base job last year. But with Ryan Howard, the last piece of the 2008 World Series team, gone, Joseph has a chance to stake an even greater claim to the position in 2017 and establish himself as a serious building block in the Phillies' rebuild.

"Tommy came out of nowhere last year," manager Pete Mackanin said. "There's something to be excited about there. He was off the map and he did enough to warrant a real strong look this year. And hopefully, he can improve and take baby steps toward being a final product."

Joseph pushed himself to the majors and cut into Howard's playing time last season by hitting .347 with six homers, 17 RBIs and a .981 OPS in 27 games at Triple A. He came to the majors in mid-May and hit .257 with 21 homers and 47 RBIs in 107 games. In the fall, Joseph briefly played winter ball in the Dominican Republic, but right wrist tendinitis, now fully healed, cut the stint short.

Joseph's good showing at the plate in 2016 was partly the result of his finding good health. As he recovered from a fifth concussion in the summer of 2015, it was discovered that he had a series of ocular problems. They were addressed through therapy and ... well, it's amazing what a hitter can do when he can see the ball.

This year, Joseph will look to improve in the field. The converted catcher is looking to add quickness around the first base bag and that starts with better footwork. At the urging of bench coach/infield instructor Larry Bowa, Joseph has been jumping rope and doing box drills all winter.

Joseph also wants to improve his approach and mindset at the plate. Though he wants to drive the ball like his size — 235 pounds — and position dictate, he wants to improve his on-base percentage and thus his OPS, on-base plus slugging percentage.

Joseph struck out 75 times and walked just 22 times in 347 plate appearances in 2016 and his on-base percentage was just .308. But over the final month of the season, he made an effort to be more selective at the plate and he recorded a .327 batting average and .406 on-base percentage (while slugging .618) over the final 23 games of the season. He struck out 10 times but walked seven over that span.

"My whole career has been a battle when it comes to walking," Joseph said. "I started to listen and read more what veterans around the league were saying about on-base percentage and OPS. Slugging is important on the corners, but there are times you have to take your walks. It's relevant because the best players in the game have a high OPS."

Joseph needs to improve in this area for a couple of reasons. First, the front office is intent on building a long-term lineup around players who control the strike zone, i.e., those who don't chase bad pitches. And second, the Phils have a legitimate run-producing first base prospect in Rhys Hoskins set to take his game to Triple A in 2017.

Joseph knows all of this and takes nothing for granted.

"The only difference this year will be I'm on the big-league side in spring training, but everything still has to be earned," he said.

The Phillies ranked last in the majors — or "last in the world," as Mackanin said — with just 610 runs scored in 2016. The offseason additions of Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders should help run production. So, too, should expected improvements from Maikel Franco and Joseph, two players who have the chance to be long-term building blocks.

"We've got guys at the big-league level that I choose to think are going to get better," Mackanin said. "Tommy Joseph is a perfect example."