Hamels what Rangers need for Opening Day

Hamels what Rangers need for Opening Day

ARLINGTON -- Cole Hamels proved to be a prophet as well as a pitcher after being acquired by the Rangers from the Phillies last season.

Hamels celebrated the trade because he was thrilled to being traded to a contender, a dubious proposition considering the Rangers were two games under .500 and seven games out going into August.

But Hamels was adamant in his belief the Rangers could get back in the race and they did, winning the division title on the final day of the season. His remarks after the trade served as the keynote address for the Rangers' two-month charge to postseason.

"It was a full understanding of playing enough baseball and understanding how team chemistry works and talent works, and who you are facing in your division," Hamels said. "I care about this game a lot and I care about my teammates a lot, so when you do believe something, it normally comes from the heart and inside. That's what I have always taken -- that upbeat positive approach and belief in my teammates."

Having a No. 1 starter also helped, and that's what Hamels was for the Rangers. It is also why he pitches for the Rangers on Monday afternoon at 3:05 CT against the Mariners in his third Opening Day start over the last four years. He was 7-1 with a 3.66 ERA in 12 starts for the Rangers last year, and they won the last 10 games he was on the mound.

"I've always tried to rise to the occasion, but what it comes down to is consistency," Hamels said. "If I can be consistent, I can be the type of guy they know what to expect when I go out there every fifth day. Remaining healthy is obviously a key and having enough stuff to get guys out, especially in big situations. That's what I strive to do."

"When guys look at you when they are trying to put together a rotation or a team, they want a familiarity with consistency and know what to expect. That's what I strive to do. It's great to have good games all the time, but we understand baseball and that doesn't always happen. But if I can be consistently at the top, that's a pretty good job."

Hamels ready for Opening Day

The Rangers could have a pretty good rotation if everybody stays healthy. They have Martin Perez, Colby Lewis and Derek Holland following Hamels, and they have Yu Darvish expected back from Tommy John surgery in June.

But there is no doubt who is the leader is of the Rangers' rotation.

"I think how I play the game and how I approach it, that sums up who I am and what I do and how people view me, watch my mannerisms," Hamels said. "There is a learning process that goes with being the old veteran. You make a lot of mistakes early in your career, and you try to correct them so you can be that type of guy that people look up to.

"Throughout the length of how you play this game, you develop a positive vibe or a negative vibe. I try to do be the best, the guy who you can count on and look at it that way."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.