Former Philadelphia Phillies ace Cole Hamels feels healthy, eyes 2023 comeback

Former Philadelphia Phillies ace and 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels is planning a comeback for 2023.

Hamels, who turns 39 this month, has not served since his first start for the Atlanta Braves in 2020. The left-hander signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers late in the 2021 season but never made an appearance due to arm problems.

Hamels is not ready to retire.

He said he underwent three surgeries – on his left shoulder, right knee and left foot – in the last year to address ongoing injury concerns which he said have hampered his production in recent years.

“So just understanding what was wrong, having it fixed and then being able to actually rehabilitate it, just targeting the right areas and not trying to overcompensate, I think kind of helped,” Hamels told The Associated Press by phone on Friday.

Hamels, who said he hits 87mph in bullpen sessions near his home in Texas, is hoping to land a spring training contract. He went 163-122 with a 3.43 ERA and batted 2,560 batters over 15 seasons with the Phillies, Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs and Braves.

In his last full season in 2019 with the Cubs, he went 7-7 with a 3.81 ERA.

Hamels, who earned nearly $211 million in the majors, last played with the Braves on September 16, 2020, going 3 1/3 innings at Baltimore and allowing three earned runs. Hamels was placed on the 60-day injured list shortly after signing with the Dodgers.

Hamels said his stint with the Dodgers was “one of the most embarrassing things for me” because he felt like he was letting the organization down. He signed not long after appearing healthy at a showcase for teams in Texas.

“They’ve been trying to deal with a lot of (shoulder) injuries over the last few years and didn’t really know the severity until they opened me up and had to fix it, they didn’t know how bad it was,” Hamels said.

Hamels said he is no longer in pain after surgeries to repair a torn meniscus and a pinched nerve in his foot.

“I think all the teams, they all knew about it,” he said. “But I could just get through it. I could play. But with everything that happened, it just got worse and worse. I couldn’t push. I could hardly sleep. It’s hard to train when you have body parts that don’t do that what to do so you can do what you want to do.”

Hamels participated in playoff games during the Phillies’ run to the World Series that year and caught a ceremonial first pitch before Game 3. met the Cubs at Wrigley Field in his last start for the Phillies on July 25, 2015.

The 2008 NLCS MVP was an integral part of the biggest run in franchise history as the Phillies won five straight NL East titles, two pennants and a World Series from 2007-11. He was 114-90 with a 3.30 ERA in 10 seasons with the Phillies and went 7-4 with a 3.09 ERA in 13 postseason starts with them.

“I want to be in the big leagues and go to the playoffs,” he said. “It’s all about this.”

The Phillies appear locked in their rotation with Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suárez and recently added free agent Taijuan Walker.

Hamels said he wants to start – he’s made 422 starts in 423 career games – but is “not opposed” to throwing from the bullpen.

“An invitation to spring training isn’t a risk, it’s a reward,” he said. “If you start me in February, I’ll be finished by April 1st. Or I’ll know for sure I can’t do it and I’ll be the first to admit, no, I’ve had a great career. I can hang it up and be proud of what I’ve done.”

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Former Philadelphia Phillies ace Cole Hamels feels healthy, eyes 2023 comeback

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