Cole Hamels is usually up before the sun to get in an off-season workout during his family’s annual sojourn to Hawaii, but on Saturday, after a night out with friends, the left-hander actually allowed himself to sleep in.
And he was sleeping soundly, until his phone made that familiar alarm noise now associated with the Amber Alert system.
This wasn’t that.
Instead, Hamels was one of the tens of thousands of people to receive that now infamous false alarm that a ballistic missile was inbound. A call was made to the front desk, where they sensed panic but received no concrete instructions.
So, they just waited.
“That’s what woke me up, and I was like, ‘Whaaaat?’” Hamels said. “That’s the whole thing, there’s nothing you can do about it. After about 20 minutes, we were like, ‘Hmm.’”
Safe, sound and missile-free, Hamels is back in the Metroplex, where on Wednesday he partook in the official unveiling of the four classrooms at the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy that were supported by a 2016 financial donation though the The Hamels Foundation.
He is fewer than four weeks from reporting to spring training and preparing to head a rotation that is filled with questions. Some involve Hamels, as the innings mount in his 12-year career, and he knows it.
His 2017 season served as his wake-up alert for 2018.
“I think every season is a big season, but I think with how last season played out — the numbers and how I pitched — don’t justify who I am and how I can play,” Hamels said. “Everybody “tries to beat the odds” as you age through the game of baseball, and I feel like I haven’t hit my peak yet. So, I’m still out there to reach that pinnacle.”
His main off-season focus has been trying to prevent another injury like the one that bit him in early May and cost him nearly two months. He considers the oblique strain the first real injury of his career, and it wasn’t fun.
Hamels finished last season with only 24 starts, his fewest since 28 in 2007, and his 4.20 ERA was his highest since a 4.32 mark in 2009. His homer and walk totals were also higher than his norms.
With only 148 innings pitched, it seems unlikely that he will reach 400 combined innings in 2017 and 2018 for the $24 million option for 2019 to automatically vest. If he doesn’t pitch 252 innings — and no pitcher has since 2004 — the option becomes a club option for $20 million or a $6 million buyout.
Hamels, though, isn’t sweating his future beyond this season, the last on a seven-year, $159 million deal that started in 2012.
“I know what it says on people and how people can perceive it, but in my head, that option is already picked up,” he said. “I’m going to do everything I can to prove them right in the reasoning why they’re going to pick it up. It’s a matter of doing what I’m capable of doing. They’re going to make the tough decisions. It’s just a matter of me making sure they have to make one.”