Hamels speaks

Cole Hamels partakes in field exercises at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla. ( David Swanson / Staff Photographer )

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Cole Hamels met with reporters earlier and detailed how he changed his off-season training. Instead of not picking up a ball like he did last off-season, Hamels followed a long tossing program he learned from Mark Prior, who Hamels has known since he was 14.

Because he threw during the off-season, Hamels says he will be able to throw more curveballs early in spring training in an attempt to better control the pitch.

Here are some of his most interesting answers...

(what did you do this offseason different from last?)
This offseason I never really stopped throwing. So I continued long tossing and light work. I wasn’t running half marathons, but I continued to throw and do my long toss and light stretching. I think that definitely worked out because I feel a lot more in shape arm-wise than I have in recent years just because most years I stick with the weight lifting and start throwing a little bit later. You have to get through the tightness. But this year I really haven’t felt tight. I feel looser. For my body style, it’s a better program. I’m glad I was able to do that. I learned a lot more about what program actually works. I’m anxious to see how that benefits me through this spring training.

(how did you develop that program?)
It’s really funny. I had that program all through high school. When you grow up in California, you play year-round. I talked with Prior because he kind of went through the same thing after his big year when they almost made it to the World Series. He said he just completely shut it down. Then that following year, he had the big injury. He and I were talking about that, just about how if you play catch and do the little things, you can keep yourself on a good maintenance instead of going from a high all the way down back trying to rev it up again.

(were you playing catch at home?)
Anywhere, everywhere. ... We went on vacation and you bring a couple baseballs. You find a tennis court and throw against the fence. Or I had a few times when I was throwing against a wall. It’s just 50 throws and that was pretty much it. I felt comfortable because I didn’t know it would be possible with all the traveling you do, but it actually was. Every time I go home to San Diego, I have my brother to play catch with. So that worked out. I worked out at a gym in Philly, an indoor facility. I was able to find that and it was accommodating. So that worked out just because when you grow up in San Diego, you can throw anywhere and everywhere. It’s good weather.

(importance of curveball?)
I think from watching pitchers, especially Kershaw, watching him in the postseason, he's got a very effective curveball. Being left-handed, just seeing what that does to our hitters -- and I do understand our hitters are very good -- and trying to put that in the repertoire, there's a lot of guys with good curveballs and it really does change the way a hitter steps in and their approach. Just being able to add one extra pitch, a pitch with movement in the opposite direction of my changeup, it adds another dimension to my pitching ability.


(worked on cutter?)
I have, yeah. Any time you're able to add something else, that adds another pitch and another possibility to throw at a guy and for them to also now have to realize there's not only two pitches now. You may be able to throw three or four. You can't really narrow it down as much.

(tips from Lee?)
I actually talked to Cliff and Steve Carlton and John Wetteland. Any time you're able to talk to those guys, they've been able to throw it pretty effectively in their careers. It's just a matter of going out there and doing it. (Carlton came down in the postseason; talked on phone a few times, too.)

(most you've thrown in offseason since when?)
I don't know. The first couple years in pro ball I kind of did a lot just because you're nervous about what pro ball is going to be like. You have those expectations to be in the best possible shape to put you in a better opportunity to move up the ladder to get to the big leagues. That's where I've gotten back to that sort of way I used to train.