Game-ready Dominicans lay a whoopin’ on Hamels

Game-ready Dominicans lay a whoopin’ on Hamels

March 5, 2013, 4:15 pm
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Spring Training TV Schedule

Mar. 6, Nationals at Phillies, 1 p.m., TCN
Mar. 7, Twins at Phillies, 1 p.m., TCN
Mar. 12, Tigers at Phillies, 1 p.m., TCN
Mar. 14 Pirates at Phillies, 1 p.m., TCN
Mar. 17 Orioles at Phillies, 1 p.m., CSN
Mar. 19, Yankees at Phillies, 1 p.m., TCN
Mar. 22, Braves at Phillies, 1 p.m., TCN
Mar. 26 Rays at Phillies, 1 p.m., TCN
Mar. 28 Blue Jays at Phillies, 1 p.m., TCN
Mar. 29 Blue Jays at Phillies, 7 p.m., TCN

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Assuming that Cole Hamels will be the Phillies’ opening day starter – all signs point to him getting that honor – the lefty has 26 days to get ready for his first meaningful outing of the season.

Hamels’ opponent Tuesday afternoon was a star-studded team primed to play a legitimate, high-stakes game in two days.

So Hamels wasn’t all that troubled by his getting tagged for 12 hits and eight runs in 2 2/3 innings by a Dominican Republic club that will open play Thursday against Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. Don’t misunderstand: He didn’t like it, but he was able to keep it in perspective.

“Sometimes you’re going to run into things and I ran into a bullet today,” Hamels said. “Obviously the Dominican Republic has a good shot to win the WBC. They’re excited and I kind of hit them at the wrong time.”

While the DR needs to be game-ready in two days, Hamels has nearly a month to sharpen his game. His mission Tuesday was to get ahead in the count with fastballs so he could mix in curveballs. That’s what he usually does in his third spring start. However, the aggressive DR hitters didn’t allow Hamels to work many pitcher’s counts.

“I wasn’t able to accomplish what I was trying to do because they’re very good at what they do,” said Hamels, who threw 59 pitches. “I wasn’t establishing the strike zone as well as I know I can. But on top of that, when I was throwing strikes they were hitting them.”

In his first two spring starts, Hamels allowed just five hits in five innings. Tuesday against the DR, he gave up a hit in the first inning, six in the second and five in the third. Jose Reyes homered against Hamels, Robinson Cano singled twice and Hanley Ramirez doubled twice. Hamels threw all fastballs to Ramirez. If this had been a regular-season contest, he would have had a different approach and mixed his pitches against Ramirez.

The DR lineup also included Edwin Encarnacion, Nelson Cruz, Miguel Tejada and Carlos Santana. For the day, the DR clubbed 28 hits en route to a 15-2 win.

Hamels was asked to pitch for Team USA in the WBC, but declined. Tuesday’s outing illustrated why the lefthander believes he could never pitch in the event: He’s just not ready to be at the top of his game in March.

“I wouldn’t be able to do it physically or mentally,” he said. “The whole point of spring training is you’re slowly trying to build up your pitch count. You’re slowly trying to get your pitches back. You’re trying to execute all four or five pitches. Those are kind of the steps you have to take with every game.”

There’s another reason that Hamels wouldn’t be interested in the WBC. As he said earlier this spring, “Our goal is to win a World Series for the Philadelphia Phillies, not the WBC.”

Statistics from Tuesday’s game did not go toward the official Grapefruit League record. That was a bright spot for the Phillies, especially Hamels.

“Thank goodness it didn’t count,” he said. “Take it for what it’s worth and move on to the next game.”

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