Phillies' Hamels: 'I Made It a Lot Harder Than the Game Should Be'
Not just of his pitches. But of him snatching at return throws from his catcher or stomping around the mound when something went wrong in 2009.
Hamels fell from World Series MVP for the Phillies in 2008 to 10-11 with a 4.32 ERA last year (plus 1-2 with a 7.58 ERA in the postseason). And pitching coach Rich Dubee blames that not on an inconsistent curve or nagging injuries or Hamels' '08 workload.
"The biggest problem with Cole last year, in my opinion," Dubee said Thursday after the Phillies' first pitchers-and-catchers workout, "is he pitched with a lot of anger -- with himself mostly. He's such a perfectionist.
"He expects to pitch a no-hitter every game. When you pitch with those expectations and it doesn't go according to plan and then you get angry, it just doesn't work."
So while there was also talk of improving that curve, maybe adding a cutter, Hamels' different offseason regimen and coming into camp better prepared to throw, Dubee made it clear the mental aspect is the first priority.
Hamels, 26, admitted -- barely -- to needing an attitude adjustment.
"You live and learn," Hamels said. "You're going to have times where things are tough. You really have to learn a little bit more about yourself. You have to bear down.
"I made it a lot harder than the game should be."
Dubee and manager Charlie Manuel said Hamels had a tendency to let things snowball. After a season when everything went almost perfectly, every mistake or bad break in 2009 would cause Hamels to unwind.
"He can be sailing right along in a game," Manuel said, "and all of a sudden he gets two outs in an inning and nobody on and the eight-hole hitter or the pitcher would hurt him. And all of a sudden he can't get out of the inning, he throws a lot of pitches and he ends up going like five or six innings. If you go back and look, that was a typical game for him."
Hamels blamed his loss of composure at times at higher expectations -- from others and himself -- after his 2008 success.
"I kind of let that get to me," Hamels said. "You become a little bit more emotional because you want it a little bit more instead of just relaxing and kid of letting it happen."
So Dubee will show Hamels those videos to remind him to keep his poise. (Hamels said that won't be necessary because "I was there.")
"It's been addressed," Dubee said. "It was addressed last year. He's got to work on it.
"The success won't come back until the demeanor changes. His attitude and his focus."