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05/12/06 12:31 AM ET
Notes: Vets ready with advice for Hamels
Gordon, Lidle, Myers remember their first days in the big leagues
By Joseph Santoliquito / Special to MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Several Phillies veterans are ready to dispense some sage advice to rookie left-hander Cole Hamels, if he wants it. Hamels is set to make his much-anticipated Major League debut on Friday in Cincinnati. It's enough to bring back some memories for pitchers Cory Lidle, Brett Myers and Tom "Flash" Gordon on what their debuts were like and what suggestions they'd make to Hamels.
"It's an exciting time for any professional ballplayer," said Gordon, who's among the National League leaders in saves with 10. "For any player that gets the call up, you want to tell them to relax. The other big thing is reminding them who they are and to stay confident. But telling [that to] someone just up is a lot easier said than done. I remember when I was first up [with Kansas City in September 1988] and kept telling myself to relax, relax. There's really no way you can. You just have to go out there and do what you've done to get you here."
Lidle concurred. The right-handed starter made his debut with the New York Mets against the Houston Astros on May 8, 1998. Lidle was asked to come in from the bullpen to face the heart of the Houston order, including Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. He learned a quick lesson on his first pitch.
"For me, I was very nervous," Lidle said. "When they called my name from the bullpen, I had to come in and face Biggio. He fouled off my first Major League pitch. And then I thought to myself, 'I make good pitches, I can get this guy out.' You have to give a certain amount of respect to Major League hitters, of course, but you also have to try to convince yourself that you belong. It's the more mental part of the game someone like Cole will have to be aware of. I remember my whole first year in the Majors, not just my first outing. You're hyped up, you're excited. You try not to overthrow, because that's when you get in trouble.
"Cole wasn't just given this job, he's earned it, based on being successful at every level he's played. I can have some insights, but I'm a firm believer in not meddling, or stepping on someone else's toes. Cole's been successful doing what he's done; I would tell him not to change anything. Hey, getting a Triple-A hitter out isn't much different than getting a Major Leaguer out. I'll talk to anyone about pitching, but I'd prefer them to come to me. I'll always be there to help, but on their terms."
Myers had one of the more auspicious debuts in Phillies history. The right-hander, who's established himself as the Phillies' No. 1 starter this season, went eight strong innings and gave up just two hits and one earned run in beating the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 24, 2002. At the time, Myers was the fifth Major League pitcher in 30 years to have pitched eight innings or more and allow two hits or less in his Major League debut.
Myers said he would tell Hamels to "do what he's done in Triple-A, and he'll be fine."
"He didn't study those hitters there," Myers continued. "He might face the Reds one more time. It's the teams in your division that you have to concentrate on more and keep them guessing. It doesn't matter what people say about you, you've got to go pitch. You can make those people look smart, or you can make them look stupid. We're ready to start another nine-game winning streak. [Cole] knows what to do. He knows his body. He's just going to have to not let the hype get to him and go out there and pitch like he knows how to pitch."
Geary sent down:
After Thursday's game, the Phillies optioned relief pitcher Geoff Geary to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre to make room on the roster for Hamels. The right-handed relief pitcher appeared in 16 games and pitched 20 1/3 innings, posting a 3.98 ERA.
Geary has an option left, allowing the Phillies to send him down. The other possibility was right-handed reliever Julio Santana, who would have had to go through waivers.
Madson's role: With the insertion of Hamels into the starting rotation, Phils manager Charlie Manuel opted to move Ryan Madson back to the bullpen, where he performed well in a setup role the last two seasons. Manuel, however, did not rule out the possibility of Madson returning to the starting rotation later this season.
"I like to give a guy what I consider a chance," Manuel said. "I would have seen him get more starts. Somewhere down the road, [Madson] might get another chance. This game changes all the time, that's why you don't make promises. I think he will get a chance to be a starter again. I worry about chemistry in the clubhouse, but I think if a guy gets upset for a little while, he gets over it because he's a professional and he knows he's got a job to do. If you're a winning player, I think all those things will work out. I don't feel like [Madson] failed at all. He makes the bullpen better than Gavin [Floyd] would because of his experience and Floyd's been a starter his whole career."
The Phillies will travel to Cincinnati for a three-game weekend set, unveiling Hamels in Friday's opener. The Reds entered play Thursday holding a half-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals atop the National League Central Division, with a 22-12 mark. The Phillies enter the series among the hottest teams in the National League, winning nine of their last 10 games entering Thursday's series finale against the New York Mets.