Spring Training and WBC Through Eyes of Cole Hamels
by Scott Butler 3/6/13

If you want a few good quotes you go to Cole Hamels. His cavalier attitude with his words is gold for bloggers like myself. He provided us with a few more yesterday.

First, Hamels offered his thoughts on playing in the World Baseball Classic:

"I know my allegiance is to the Phillies and this organization winning the World Series," he said. "I think winning the World Series is a little bit more important than whatever trophy they give for the World Baseball Classic. The World Series is ultimately the goal that I would go for no matter what they are throwing out there for the champions of the World Baseball Classic."

Although not exactly inflammatory comments or poster board material, they are words you will hear from few other than Cole Hamels. Most players would have that voice in the back of their head screaming, "That's unpatriotic! Tell them that representing your country is the honor of a lifetime." Not Hollywood Hamels.

Who wouldn't want to play for their country and hoist a trophy for the United States? But who among us would value that hardware even slightly over a cruise down Broad Street in October? Unpatriotic it might be, but it is a truth for many players. That's why I love Cole Hamels. He is not afraid to say what he feels. He wasn't afraid before his big contract and he is not afraid now.

Switching topics, Hamels' outing was also informative on the baseball side. When Cliff Lee had a terrible outing on Monday he did not appear to be even slightly fazed. Hamels showed a similar lack of concern after getting humiliated by the Dominican Republic for 12 hits and eight runs in 2.2 innings.

Why is that? How can you get slaughtered without enduring nightmares?

The answer to that question is one of the beauties of Spring Training. Pitchers are looking to develop a feel for certain pitches and Florida is where they begin the process of fine tuning. With Hamels, his goal was to get a feel for his fastball, so that was essentially all he threw. Here's a news flash for you: hitters love fastballs. Throw enough fastballs to an all-star Dominican squad and they will hit you. Hard. That's just what happened with Hamels on Tuesday.

"Yeah, I think I only threw four pitches to Hanley [Ramirez], and they were all fastballs," Hamels said. "So that's a little bit different from what I'd normally do. You can't let it take away from your game plan and how you're trying to prepare for spring training and where you want to be at the finish of spring training. Sometimes you're going to run into things, and obviously I ran into a bullet today. "

Cole's approach was a-okay with pitching coach Rich Dubee, as well. "Spring training has a purpose, and one of those things is you have to get your fastball going," Dubee said. "And he knows they're all fastball hitters over there. He threw five curves, seven change-ups, nine cutters, but he wants to get his fastball command going. That's the purpose of today. It's not about getting results. His goal was to get 60 pitches in and to try to control his fastball. Heck, he's facing an all-star team and he doesn't have all his weapons."

Hamels' experience offers the huge difference between the WBC and Spring Training. In a Spring Training game, players have no problem focusing on a finite amount of things with a disregard for the results. But in the WBC you are playing to win. Spring Training pitchers can throw 65% fastballs, but WBC pitchers need to mix in all their pitches and possibly disturb their preparation for the regular season. That's why I am happy Cole Hamels is a Spring Training pitcher.

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