Hamels focused on staying in the moment

Opening Day starter sees '15 Phils in control of destiny

Hamels focused on staying in the moment

PHILADELPHIA-- Cole Hamels will be starting Opening Day for the Phillies against the visiting Red Sox on Monday, but on a rainy Friday afternoon, he was the center of attention as he faced the media in the bowels of Citizens Bank Park.

The 31-year-old lefthander was the focus of much attention during the Grapefruit League season as speculation about his immediate future in Philadelphia was as heavy as the passion of the fans in the City of Brotherly Love. That was especially the case following his pronouncement in a USA Today piece in February that the Phillies and winning are not exactly going to go hand-in-hand.

"I think we have to enjoy the moment," he said Friday when asked how he can feel upbeat about the coming season. "I know everything is defined with wins and losses, but right now we are 0-0 and we decide our own destiny and decide our own fate. We're going to compete for the next six months and things are going to be more enjoyable."

What was not enjoyable for Hamels a year ago was a season in which he consistently received very little offensive support while going 9-9 in 30 starts despite an ERA of 2.46, good for fifth in the National League. There is seemingly nothing new with a club that hit .233 in Grapefruit League play, an average that is last among all 30 teams.

"It has taught me to play a game within a game," he said when asked how the lack of support can impact his outlook. "It's taught me how to go out and pitch. There's a game within a game. If I can go out there and focus with what I'm trying to execute, everything will take care of itself."

According to many projections, very little will take care of itself for the Phillies this season. Depending on where you look, Ryne Sandberg's team is certain to lose far more than they win, with several predictions calling for 100-plus losses, something a Phillies team has not done since 1961.

"Ultimately, it's about trying to win as many ballgames as we can and hoist a trophy at the end of the day and have a parade," he said. "We get to decide what we do this year and it all starts on Monday."

Hamels may very well hoist a trophy at season's end. If so, it most likely will not be in a Phillies uniform.

Tom Layberger is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.