Hamels adding curve, cutter to arsenal
Lefty focusing on slowing game down, good fundamentals
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Hitters ultimately will tell Cole Hamels how much progress he has made with his curveball and cutter.
They get their first look Friday at 1:05 p.m. ET, when Hamels makes his Grapefruit League debut against the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla.
Hamels is trying to establish a third pitch to go along with his fastball and changeup, which is one of the best in the business. Hitters adjusted to him last season, which partially accounted for his 10-11 record and 4.32 ERA.
Hamels had thrown the curveball in the past, but he had trouble throwing it for strikes. The cutter is new.
It sounded earlier in camp like Hamels might focus solely on the curveball and eventually work in the cutter, but based on Friday's session, it looks like Hamels is comfortable working on both pitches at the same time.
"It's hard, but I'm willing to put in all the work to do it, because I understand the importance and significance behind having more pitches against big league hitters," Hamels said. "I'm out to prove to myself that I can work hard and not only add one, but add two and still be able to throw my fastball and changeup."
Hamels threw five cutters and four curveballs in Friday's batting-practice session.
"I didn't really focus on where I was throwing it," Hamels said. "I was so focused on getting in a good set position and getting a good grip on the ball and then just releasing the pitch. I was actually surprised at how good some of them were. I think my biggest problem is I rush through things. I rush things when things don't go well. That's the whole idea right now -- slow it down, get a good grip and get in good position. I'm anxious for my next BP."
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Hamels also is working on his demeanor. He lost his cool at times last season, and momentarily lapsed after he spiked a fastball in the dirt Friday.
He caught himself, cooled himself down and threw a nice fastball with his next pitch.
"I was like, 'Wow, I just threw a fastball in the dirt,'" Hamels said. "You normally throw offspeed stuff in the dirt. But it was understanding that the pitch was done with and I needed to make another one. I'm 1-0, so what? I think that's where I'm not going to stress. I'm not going to stress out about not having the count in my favor. I think that's kind of where it is. You can only do so much, that's the realization that I've had."
It is a learning process that begins in earnest Friday against the Blue Jays, but so far, coaches and players have been impressed with what they have seen from Hamels.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.