CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels said he feels healthy for the first time in a year, and that could cause headaches for hitters.
It could fatten his wallet, too.
Hamels had surgery in the offseason to remove loose bodies in his left elbow. He said the surgery was successful, and the improvement in his elbow has him throwing better changeups. The changeup has been Hamels' moneymaker since high school, so a better one could make him even tougher to hit in 2012.
"I wasn't able to turn it over as much and get the drop or the fade as much as I'm normally accustomed to [last season]," Hamels said. "I was able to get away with it, because of the difference in speed and it still did move where I got a lot more ground balls than swings and misses. I'm just happy it does have the type of moment it does right now, because that's what I'm used to, and I like that feeling."
Hamels not only battled elbow issues last season, but a sports hernia and poison oak. If he stays healthy and gets some run support, Hamels could be in line for his biggest season yet.
Hamels, who can potentially become a free agent after the season, seems to be in line for a contract worth more than $100 million. His agent John Boggs has been in town this week, but a deal is not close or expected to be finalized before the end of Spring Training, if an agreement can be reached at all.
"I'm not the type of guy that needs to put up parameters and barriers," Hamels said on a timetable to reach an agreement. "It's a situation where I think I'm more focused on being able to go out and pitch. I think that's what I know the team wants me to do. Our ultimate goal is to win a World Series, not play for a contract."
Phillies being extra cautious with Brown
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies left fielder Domonic Brown can't catch a break.
He has been out since Monday because of a sprained right thumb, which he injured when he dove after he took a poor route to a ball in a Grapefruit League game against the Yankees. Brown had X-rays on Wednesday, but he also had an MRI exam scheduled Thursday.
"We don't think it's anything serious, but we're going to take every precaution and get it scanned," Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said.
Brown sprained the same thumb last season diving for a ball with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, so the Phillies want to be cautious.
"That's why they want to look at it more closely," Proefrock said. "There have been some issues in the past and they're not sure what's new and what's old."
Brown is 2-for-8 with one triple and one walk in three games. He is expected to open the season in Lehigh Valley.
Soreness plagues Willis one day later
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies left-hander Dontrelle Willis had some soreness in his left arm on Thursday, and it is unclear when he will be back on the mound.
"I think they're going to back him off for a couple days," Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said at Bright House Field. "But it was nothing major. The other day, he backed off his long toss. It's nothing big."
Willis is scheduled to pitch Sunday, but that is subject to change.
Right-hander Jose Contreras is scheduled to throw another round of batting practice Friday, and he could see his first Grapefruit League action sometime next week.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.