The off-season has been a busy one for Cole Hamels, who said that he completed some important work for his charity such as the All-Star Hitting & Pitching Clinic he held Saturday with Michael Young at Trinity High School.
He’s also scored some serious family time and joined the long procession of players who have grown Grizzly Adams beards. Hamels’ effort is more along the lines of hockey player vying for the Stanley Cup, though he claims it was much more robust before a recent trim.
But one thing he hasn’t accomplished this off-season is getting over the sting of the way the Texas Rangers’ 2016 season ended. It was swift and mostly non-competitive, especially the Game 1 start Hamels made in the American League Division Series against the Toronto Blue Jays.
He was knocked around for seven runs (six earned) in only 3 1/3 innings, and the outing served as a precursor of things to come for Rangers starters in the three-game sweep. Hamels is still trying to process what went wrong, but he is motivated to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“Our team was so good, the talent we had,” Hamels said. “We had a special group of guys. You wanted to be able to take a little farther than three games and you’re out. I know I didn’t fulfill my end of the bargain.
“It’s taken me a long time to process that because I know what I’m capable of doing and what I want to do. So, this year I’m definitely going to come out and redeem myself in a sense and have a good year.”
Hamels, who went 15-5 with a 3.32 ERA last season but 1-1 with a 5.86 ERA in his final five starts, isn’t throwing off a mound yet and expects to do so for the first time once spring training arrives Feb. 14. He said that he is throwing at 120 feet.
While he has been working out throughout the off-season, he expects to ratchet up his workouts the final few weeks before camp opens.
“I’ll be excited to get to Arizona, see the guys and get the juices flowing,” Hamels said.
The left-hander pledged that all the money raised Saturday for The Hamels Foundation will be reinvested in the community. Part of the proceeds went to the Michael Young Family Foundation. Hamels’ foundation donated to two Dallas elementary schools and the Urban Youth Academy in Dallas last year.