Hamels on Phillies not making playoffs: 'It sucks'

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Hamels on Phillies not making playoffs: 'It sucks'

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MIAMI -- For the second straight year, Cole Hamels threw his last pitch of the season in front of a small crowd in Miami, far, far away from the excitement of baseball’s postseason.

“It sucks,” Hamels said late Wednesday night, after pitching six innings of two-run ball in a 3-2 loss to the Miami Marlins (see Instant Replay). “It’s two years in a row. You train all offseason to go to October and win, so it’s unfortunate.”

Hamels begins his offseason training Thursday. There are four games left in Atlanta and he will be a spectator.

It was an interesting year for the 29-year-old lefty, who signed the richest contract in Philadelphia sports history -- six years, $144 million -- in July 2012. He allowed 13 runs in 10 2/3 innings in his first two starts of the season. In his remaining 31 starts, he recorded an ERA of 3.22.

For the season, Hamels went 8-14 with a 3.60 ERA. He matched a career-high with 33 starts and pitched 220 innings, the second-highest total of his career. He struck out 202 and walked 50.

“I’m pretty proud of myself that I stayed healthy and made all of my starts,” Hamels said. “I know I got bumped back a few days in the middle of the season, but I went out there and gave it all I had.”

Pitching coach Rich Dubee gave Hamels a few extra days between starts before the All-Star break because the lefty was showing signs of frustration. Hamels was pitching well, but the wins weren’t coming, mostly because the team had trouble scoring runs.

Hamels pitched well after the All-Star break, recording a 2.97 ERA in 13 starts.

“I think a breath of fresh air helped immensely,” Dubee said. “It’s like an everyday player. You’ll see a good, sharp manager see a guy pressing and get the guy a couple of days away from competition. I just wanted to give him a chance to clear his mind.

“He had a tough-luck year. The numbers are deceiving. The baseball gods weren’t always with him.”

Hamels grudgingly conceded that Dubee’s methods had merit.

“Um, sure, I guess it worked,” he said. “I understood what they were doing. I just wasn’t staying within myself, staying within the rhythm of the game. I was getting carried away with certain things you shouldn’t allow yourself to be affected by. Understanding what you can control and what you can’t control, that is ultimately the big learning lesson this season.”

As good as Hamels pitched in the second half, he still made mistakes.

One of them came in the second inning Wednesday night when he threw an 0-2 cutter to Adeiny Hechavarria, who clubbed it deep to center for a two-run triple. Hamels said he threw a cutter because he thought he could get a ground ball and a double play, but he didn’t get the pitch inside enough to Hechavarria. It was one of two 0-2 pitches that the Marlins turned into big hits. Placido Polanco singled on a 0-2 pitch against Ethan Martin in the eighth. It helped set up the go-ahead run, which scored on an infield chopper to shortstop.

Manager Ryne Sandberg noticed the two 0-2 pitches.

“Those were too good of pitches,” Sandberg said. “They came back to haunt us.”

One or two pitches can haunt when a team is not scoring runs. The Phils scored just four runs in losing two of three to the 100-loss Marlins, who won a series at home for the first time since July.

The Phils had just one extra-base hit -- a Darin Ruf double -- in the game. That came in the seventh inning when Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez drove in runs to tie the game at 2-2.

“This series, we definitely had trouble scoring runs,” Sandberg said. “And I’ve been told there’s a little bit of a history of that. We had 10 hits, but we have a power shortage right now of extra-base hits and home runs.”

The Phils have not homered in seven games.

Roman Quinn hopes new offseason plan results in that elusive healthy season

Roman Quinn hopes new offseason plan results in that elusive healthy season

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Roman Quinn’s bio covers a wide range of body parts. There’s the Achilles tendon, as in torn, the quad, as in torn, and the oblique, as in strained. Twice. The word concussion also appears in there.
 
Sick and tired of having things go ‘pop’ in his body, Quinn decided to try something new after last season.
 
In early November, he rented an apartment “two minutes” from the Phillies’ spring-training facility and for three-plus months worked under the supervision of Paul Fournier, the team’s strength and conditioning guru.
 
“Paul and I worked five days a week,” Quinn said Saturday. “Strength. Flexibility. It was something I wanted to do because in the past I was doing something wrong in the offseason. I was ready for the season but I ended up getting leg injuries. Paul put together a plan to get my body right and he was there the whole time to tell me if I was doing something wrong. I’m going to carry it into the season.”
 
Quinn, 23, made a solid showing in a big-league cameo with the Phillies in September. In 15 games, he had a .373 on-base percentage and showed off a big arm in the outfield. Alas, he did not play in the final five games of the season after injuring his oblique for a second time.
 
Quinn’s play in September fueled speculation that he would be in the Phillies’ opening day outfield this season. Even manager Pete Mackanin said there was a good chance it could happen. But that late-season oblique injury served as one last reminder of Quinn’s inability to stay healthy and the Phillies ended up bringing in two outfielders, Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders, this offseason.
 
Kendrick and Saunders were added first and foremost to provide some veteran impact and offense in the lineup. But you have to believe Phillies officials might have stopped at one veteran bat or brought in a semi-regular player to share time with Quinn if Quinn’s health history wasn’t such an issue. He’s never stayed on the field for a full season.
 
“If that was the case I can definitely see where they’re coming from,” Quinn said. “I know I need to play a full season and be healthy and prove that I can play 160-something games.”
 
Saunders’ signing last month pretty much made it official: Quinn will open the season in center field for Triple A Lehigh Valley. Quinn said he was not disappointed by that. He applauded the signing of Saunders.
 
“I think it was a good team decision,” he said. “He’s a really good player and he’s going to provide a lot for this team.
 
“Those things are out of my control. All I can do is go out and compete and play my heart out.
 
“I’ve never played at Triple A. If I do end up in Triple A, I’m going to make the most of it and play hard and compete like I have throughout my time in the minor leagues.”
 
When Quinn is healthy and on the field, he is a dynamic player, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound switch-hitter with gap power and blazing speed. He has 159 stolen bases in 356 minor-league games since being selected in the second round of the 2011 draft and passing on a scholarship to Florida State to sign with the Phils.
 
Quinn has the arm to play any outfield position. He showed that September 14 when he gunned down Sean Rodriguez at the plate in the ninth inning to help preserve a win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in Philadelphia. The throw registered 96 mph on MLB.com Statcast.
 
96.
 
The Phillies have one starting pitcher — Vince Velasquez — who throws that hard.
 
“It was a pretty cool feeling,” Quinn said.
 
In high school, Quinn was often used as a closer. He said he hit 94 mph on the radar gun back then.
 
Though Quinn is ticketed for Triple A, Phillies management is eager to see him play in Grapefruit League games. He was arguably the most exciting player on the field during his time in big-league camp last year.
 
“What we saw in September was a really exciting player with a lot of promise who has a chance to be an impactful big leaguer,” general manger Matt Klentak said. “But we want to make sure we’re doing the right thing for Roman developmentally. He’s never had an at-bat at the Triple A level and we don’t believe some additional time in the minor leagues will stunt his development.”
 
At Lehigh Valley, Quinn will be flanked by Dylan Cozens and Nick Williams in a prospect-studded outfield. All three could be in Philadelphia at some point this season.
 
“If I do end up at Triple A, we’re going to have a pretty stacked team,” Quinn said. “It will be exciting because we all could be knocking on the door of the big leagues.
 
“I know just getting that little taste last year made me feel like it was somewhere I belong. I’m hungry.”

MLB Notes: Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson misses workout with calf injury

MLB Notes: Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson misses workout with calf injury

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Toronto slugger Josh Donaldson has missed the team's first full-squad workout because of a calf injury.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Saturday that the third baseman tweaked his right calf while running sprints a day earlier. He was scheduled for an MRI and further evaluation. Donaldson injured the same calf last April but did not miss any significant time.

Donaldson, the 2015 AL MVP, batted .284 with 37 home runs and 99 RBIs last season. He was an All-Star for a third straight season and helped lead Toronto to the ALCS.

Also, catcher Russell Martin was given the day off because of a fever.

Bryce Harper thinks he had a bad 2016
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper says he knows "exactly why" his production dipped last season from his MVP-winning performance a year earlier -- but he did not elaborate.

Harper met with reporters Saturday, the day before Washington's first official full-squad workout of spring training.

After saying he did know what happened to make him go from the youngest unanimous MVP in baseball history in 2015, to a .243 hitter in 2016, Harper evaded questions that tried to pin him down on the reasons.

He spoke about "staying in the lineup" last season as if it were a chore, but did not say that he was injured.

Asked what he thought of the Nationals' offseason transactions, Harper said the team's switch to a new training complex in Florida was the "biggest move I'm excited about."

Kershaw to start opening day for 7th straight time
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Clayton Kershaw will make his seventh straight opening-day start for the Dodgers, tying Don Sutton's franchise record.

The announcement was no surprise. It took Manager Dave Roberts four days into spring training to say Kershaw will start April 3 at home against the San Diego Padres.

Roberts calls this an "obvious" decision. He spoke Saturday before his club began an abbreviated workout schedule on a rainy day in the desert.

Sutton made seven straight starts from 1972 through 1978. Don Drysdale had seven opening-day starts, but not in successive years. Fernando Valenzuela made six.

Kershaw is 4-0 with two no-decisions on opening day.

Yankees beat reliever Betances in final arbitration case
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The New York Yankees beat Dellin Betances in the year's final salary arbitration case, and the relief pitcher will be paid $3 million rather than his $5 million request.

The decision gave teams an 8-7 edge in decisions this year, the most hearings since clubs won 10 of 16 decisions in 1994. Players won three of four cases last year.

Arbitrators Steven Wolf, Dan Brent and Sylvia Skratek issued their decision Saturday, a day after hearing arguments.

New York renewed Betances at the major league minimum $507,500 last year. A setup man for the first four months, he took over as closer after the trades of Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs and Andrew Miller to Cleveland.