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03/05/2013 6:55 PM ET

Fine-tuning command Hamels' spring goal

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Cole Hamels summed up his rocky 2 2/3 innings on Tuesday against the Dominican Republic thusly:

"Thank goodness it doesn't count."

The left-hander allowed eight runs on 12 hits, including a home run, and struck out three against a talented lineup in a 15-2 loss at Bright House Field. The Dominicans scored four runs against Hamels in the second and four more in the third, and he was removed after throwing 59 pitches.

"Obviously, what I was going out and trying to do, I wasn't able to accomplish it as well," said Hamels, who is the Phillies' presumed Opening Day starter. "They're very good at what they do. It's just a game where you take it and try to build on what you can for the next bullpen [session], and then getting ready for my next goal, which is try to pitch deeper into a ballgame. Establish strikes in the strike zone -- I don't think I was doing that as well as I know I can. And on top of that, when I was throwing strikes, they were hitting them. I didn't miss many bats."

Said Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee: "Spring Training has a purpose. One of the things is you've got to get your fastball going. He knows they're all fastball hitters over there. But he sprinkled in [nine] cutters, some curveballs -- I think he threw five curveballs -- seven changeups. But he wants to get his fastball command going. And that's the purpose today. It isn't about results right now. … He's facing an All-Star team, and he doesn't even have all his weapons."

Manuel expects Ruf to shed slow start

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies outfielder Darin Ruf had another tough day.

He went 0-for-4 against the Dominican Republic in a 15-2 loss on Tuesday at Bright House Field. He also could not get to a ball Miguel Tejada hit to left-center field for a ground-rule double in the third inning. The ball appeared catchable.

Ruf is hitting .111 (3-for-27) with one double, three RBIs, two walks and nine strikeouts in nine games, including Tuesday's exhibition contest, which does not figure into the official Grapefruit League statistics.

"It looks like he didn't get no hits," said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, when asked what Ruf looked like at the plate. "Right now, things aren't going good for Ruf. He'll be all right. Ruf isn't the only guy to ever come to Spring Training and get off to a slow start. It happens every spring. He'll be fine. He is going to get some more hits. He's not going to go all of his life with collars."

Worth noting

• Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon has had a rough beginning to Spring Training. He has allowed eight runs, seven hits and three walks in just 1 2/3 innings across two Grapefruit League appearances. He then had to be scratched from Tuesday's scheduled appearance against the Dominican Republic at Bright House Field because of an illness.

• The Dominican Republic might have had 28 hits against the Phillies, but Manuel is picking Japan to win the World Baseball Classic.

"I know that they're prepared to play," Manuel said.

• Third baseman Cody Asche went 2-for-3 on Tuesday. He is hitting .385 (5-for-13) with one double this spring, including Tuesday's performance.

"I like the way he hits," Manuel said. "I like his approach to hitting. He's got a quick bat. He works hard. He's determined. I like him -- yes, I do."

• The Phillies loaned five pitchers to the Dominican Republic on Tuesday: left-handers Mauricio Robles and Tom Cochran, and right-handers Juan Sosa, Michael Cisco and Edgar Garcia.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.