CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Some players are visibly anxious when they are negotiating megabuck contract extensions.
Not Cole Hamels.
He is remarkably at peace and noticeably stress-free for a guy who is weighing the merits of signing a huge deal with the Phillies in the short term or rolling the dice on even greater riches by waiting until free agency in the coming winter.
Its something where, if I just play, things are going to work out, Hamels said Thursday. Winning a championship is the only focus I have.
Hamels performance in his final Florida start of the spring seemed to confirm that attitude Thursday. He allowed three hits and one run while walking two and striking out seven in 5 23 innings in a 2-1 win over Tampa Bay (see box score).
Locked in, said one scout who watched Hamels from behind the backstop. Very good outing.
Hamels used his cutter effectively. The addition of the pitch in 2010 has made him a better pitcher. In 2009, before adding the pitch, his opponents batting average was .273. That ranked 60th in the majors. Last season, opponents hit .214 against Hamels. That was the seventh-best mark in the majors.
Hamels will likely get a few tune-up innings Tuesday in Philadelphia before he starts the home opener on April 9.
This is the time you want to see what youre all about and see what kind of shape youre in, give it your all and see what happens, he said. Everything is getting toward game speed.
Neither the Phillies nor Hamels representative, John Boggs, will talk about the state of the pitchers contract negotiations. Sources have told CSNPhilly.com that the Phillies are willing to meet Hamels price tag of at least 20 million per season. Length of deal is still a sticking point, according to sources. Nonetheless, there is a general feel of optimism that an agreement will eventually be struck to keep the homegrown Hamels in red pinstripes for years to come.
Hamels demeanor almost seems to suggest that a deal will get done. Some players on the cusp of free agency set opening day as a deadline for negotiating deals, but Hamels seems to be completely at ease a week before the opener. He doesnt even acknowledge injury as a potential risk, saying hes overcome them before. He even mentioned that he believed the Phillies would not want to cut a deal before opening day because of luxury-tax considerations, though that rule does not apply as it did a year ago when another Boggs client, Adrian Gonzalez, signed an extension with Boston last April.
Maybe Hamels unfazed attitude simply reflects a confidence in his ability to have a big season and make a big score on the free-agent market next winter.
Its a great feeling to know they value homegrown guys and high-round picks, he said. The Phillies have shown they like to keep those guys around.