Like the other proven starters in the Phillies’ rotation, Cole Hamels isn’t worried about results until the games count.
It’s a good thing, because they’ve all struggled lately.
Hamels was the latest to get roughed up, allowing five runs-four of which were earned — and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings in a 10-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday.
“I was really trying to work inside, inner half to righties,” Hamels said. “I thought I threw a lot of good pitches. It’s something I need to work on. They were able to key in and swing at the pitches they wanted to swing at and take the others.”
Hamels had his most consistent season in 2011. He was 14-9 and set career bests in ERA (2.79) and WHIP (0.97) while earning his second trip to the All-Star game. The 2008 World Series and NL championship series MVP is pleased with his progress this spring.
Hamels, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee are All-Star pitchers, so they use the exhibition season to work on different parts of their game. They have little to prove.
“It’s getting there,” Hamels said. “Once you can narrow it down and hit your spots, you can be very dangerous. I was happy with what I was able to do. It’s nice to know you can be free and easy and you have a lot more pitches to work with. I feel like I’m getting there and things are looking really good.”
Reliever Jose Contreras made his first appearance in a major league game this spring, and was hit hard. The veteran righty allowed four hits to five batters. Contreras is a key part of the back end of the bullpen in front of closer Jonathan Papelbon.
“The one thing I’m concentrating on is location before next time,” said Contreras, who was shut down last June because of arm problems. “But I feel good. No pain, and that’s the most important thing.”
The injury-plagued Phillies received good news early Sunday when X-rays on All-Star third baseman Placido Polanco’s left ring finger were negative. Polanco has just a minor sprain, and is expected to miss only a few games.
Polanco got hurt sliding head-first into first base on a pickoff play Saturday. The Phillies already are missing Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, though Utley is getting closer to returning.
Antonio Bastardo continued his impressive spring, striking out two batters in a scoreless inning against the Blue Jays. The hard-throwing lefty setup man has a 0.00 ERA in five appearances.