Cole Hamels, the 2008 World Series Most Valuable Player who never lived up to the hype in '09, is working hard this spring on perfecting his change-up and developing a cut fastball.
But what's really important, according to his pitching coach, is that Hamels control his demeanor in 2010.
"The biggest problem with Cole last year, in my opinion, was that he pitched with a lot of anger," Rich Dubee said Thursday after the first workout of the spring for Phillies pitchers and catchers. "With himself, mostly.
"He's such a perfectionist. You don't pitch with anger, especially with yourself."
Dubee and various Phillies, including veteran lefty Jamie Moyer, talked with Hamels about it as '09 rolled on, but once the struggles began with a sore elbow in the spring and then spilled over into lack of results on the field, Hamels never could catch up. He finished 10-11 with a 4.32 ERA -- more than a run higher than his 3.09 ERA in '08.
"His approach wasn't very good last year," said Dubee, who added that "it's been addressed."
Hamels' anger and frustration was evident in the way he snapped at the ball on the field when it was being returned from the catcher, and in the way he stomped around on the mound at various times between pitches after serving up a key hit or missing on an important pitch.
"I think that's where the expectations come into play," said Hamels, who never came close to living up to Cy Young predictions in '09. "You have a lot more expectations, and I let that get to me. I became emotional instead of relaxing and letting it happen."
Hamels laughed when told Dubee said part of the fix might be in Hamels viewing video of his churlish behavior.
"I was there. I remember those times," he said. "I don't need to watch the video. I understand what I did wrong."
Among other things, Hamels started throwing much earlier this winter than he has in the past. Dubee said that's evident simply from watching him play long toss during workouts this week.
"You watch him long toss, and he's far beyond where he's ever been in spring training," said the pitching coach, who added that he's quite impressed with Hamels because, after struggling last year, Hamels "could have gone home and sulked."
"I'm a lot more in shape arm-wise than in recent years," Hamels said.
With new ace Roy Halladay aboard, if Hamels pitches the way the Phillies know he can, then they again think they'll be the team to beat in the NL this season.
"I think what he needed was a breath of fresh air in the off season," Dubee said.
Sunblock Day? Yes because the sun was out, but what was really needed was a wind block. "I'll tell you something: I've got three shirts on," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said following Thursday's workout. "And I needed a jacket."
Likes: Phillies manager Charlie Manuel down 56 pounds from last year, proudly exhibiting his jeans in the clubhouse the other day and calling them "my Nutrisystem jeans". ... Now we see why Indians assistant general manager Chris Antonetti spurned interest by other organizations when they wanted to interview him when they had GM openings. Congratulations to Mark Shapiro's hard-working assistant on being named GM-in-waiting Thursday. And given the cratering economy and attendance, Godspeed, Chris. ... Chien-Ming Wang, Washington National. ... How about the double-overtime Notre Dame-Louisville game Wednesday night, a 91-89 Cardinals win? What a great, great game. ... Early Seger Volume 1 is a terrific -- and lacking -- CD. Lacking because, Bob Seger has got to have far more in the vaults than one small disc. Somebody needs to talk with Seger's manager, Punch Andrews, and scold him to release not only more music, but a DVD of Seger's last concert tour a couple of years ago. That there isn't more available -- video and audio -- from one of the all-time masters is criminal. ... The grilled grouper with mango salsa at Bonefish Grill the other night was very tasty.
Dislikes: Get ready for some serious lobbying for a new stadium for Tampa Bay. Rays president Stuart Sternberg said on local radio the other day that the club's $70 million payroll definitely will be chopped next year and insinuated that it would be below $60 million. Commissioner Bud Selig followed that up with an appearance at the annual Florida Governor's Baseball Dinner on Wednesday, during which he said "It almost boggles my mind that there's a debate. They need a new stadium."
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"It may be raining
"But there's a rainbow above you"
-- The Eagles, Desperado