Cole Hamels is settling into life as a Texas Ranger. He and his wife closed on a house in Southlake on Friday. A few hours later he was in West Dallas to help the Rangers’ break ground on a youth baseball facility.
The Rangers’ success in 2015 after acquiring Hamels at the trade deadline has the 32-year-old excited about the prospect of pitching a full season in Texas. Three years remain on his Rangers’ contract.
“I think we’re all pretty excited for spring training to really get back and get into the group. I know a bunch of them are working out right now as a group, which is really cool to hear,” he said. “This will be fun, and I think it makes it even more exciting [sharing a spring training field] with the World Series champions. You’re going to be able to see them over the hedges, so I think that will kind of get you going too, because we’re the ones that want to take it away from them.”
Right now, I’m just in long toss mode, then once February 1 hits, I’ll try to make a few mound visits. Then during spring training just kind of kick it in gear and go from there.
Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels
Hamels hopes the relationships forged in 2015 will deepen in the future and facilitate his leadership role in the clubhouse.
“Yeah, that’s what I’m there for. I’m always there to give them as much information as possible, be as positive as I possibly can, and that’s what it takes, it takes a good group of guys to be able to do so, and you have to have a good frame of mind, and you have to have guys willing to do that.”
Much of that bond has already been developed.
“That stretch run really does create a really good bond when you’re chasing a pennant with the crucial guys down the wire in September, and especially when you get a few postseason games in,” he said. “Then in spring training you’re able to kind of rekindle that and build it, so I’m excited for that.”
Adrian Beltre said his No. 1 goal is to win a World Series and hopes that’s with the Rangers as long as the club continues to show him they’re intent on putting together a title-caliber team. General manager Jon Daniels recently said the club hopes to sign Beltre to an extension sooner rather than later. His contract is up in October. He turns 37 in April.
“There’s no reason for me to believe they don’t want to win here. JD has done what he promised me, that he was going to continue to keep [building] a team with a chance to win and that’s what we’re doing,” he said. “I’m comfortable here and if everything goes the way it looks I don’t see why I wouldn’t stay here.”
Pittsburgh Pirates manager and former Rangers’ hitting coach Clint Hurdle introduced his former assistant Jeff Banister at Friday’s Rangers’ awards dinner. Hurdle presented Banister with his American League manager of the year award.
He’s got the baseball IQ, he’s got the leaderships skills, he cares about people. The words match the actions.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, who presented Jeff Banister’s manager of the year award
“I was humbled to even be asked. It was one of the few times I didn’t ask [wife] Karla if it was OK,” he said. “It’s special in a lot of different ways. I’m proud of him, I’m happy for him and his family and the Rangers organization.”
Banister’s last two seasons with the Pirates were about grooming him to become a manager, Hurdle said.
“He’s got the baseball IQ, he’s got the leaderships skills, he cares about people. The words match the actions,” he said. “The game needs a man like him involved in the dugout. The street cred, the life he’s led, personally and professionally.
Prince Fielder, Hamels and Daniels helped break ground on the Texas Rangers MLB Urban Youth Academy, a baseball complex being built in West Dallas. The five-field, 17-acre facility is a joint project between the Rangers, MLB, the MLB players association and Dallas-based Mercy Street. It will provide free (or reduced cost) year-round baseball.
Fielder and Hamels are donating funds to the project, along with Los Angeles Dodgers ace and Dallas resident Clayton Kershaw, who was on hand for Friday’s groundbreaking. Fielder’s contribution will go to build the Prince Fielder Batting Cages. The Hamels Foundation’s contribution will support the Academy’s future classroom programming.
The indoor building will include a turf professional-sized infield, six batting/pitching cages, classrooms and a weight and nutrition room.
“This is how you’re able to play the game of baseball. It’s not that type of game where it’s as easy as basketball, where you can put a net anywhere,” Hamels said. “You have to have fields, and that’s how you’re able to progress and to get better at the game.”
Rangers’ 2015 Award winners
Here’s the Rangers’ 2015 award winners, presented at the club’s awards dinner Friday night at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine:
Player of the year: Prince Fielder
Pitcher of the year: Shawn Tolleson
Rookie of the year: Delino DeShields
Richard Durrett hardest working man: Rougned Odor
Harold McKinney good guy: Elvis Andrus
Jim Sundberg community achievement: Adrian Beltre
Bobby Jones player development man of the year: Corey Ragsdale
Don Welke scout of the Year: Rafic Saab
Mark Holtz alumni of the year: Dean Palmer
Tom Grieve minors player of the year: Nomar Mazara
Nolan Ryan minors pitcher of the year: Ariel Jurado
Minors reliever of the year: Andrew Faulkner
Minors defender of the year: Lewis Brinson