Hamels anticipating 'kicking up intensity' at camp

Left-hander has devoted offseason time to educational foundation work

Hamels anticipating 'kicking up intensity' at camp

EULESS, Tex. -- The offseason has been busy for Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels and his wife Heidi.

They operate the Hamels Foundation, which is focused on educational projects in Philadelphia, San Diego, Springfield (Mo.) and North Texas, as well as in the impoverished African country of Malawi, so it's easy to understand why their schedule is full.

"It's been good," Hamels said. "A lot of work, trying to get in where I can, doing a lot of good foundation work. Moving into North Texas, we are trying to get more involved here. We are still able to give back in Philadelphia and San Diego, my hometown, and Missouri, where my wife is from. We are enjoying it and mixing in some workouts. As the season gets closer, we are going to start wrapping it up and kicking up the intensity."

Hamels and his wife were at Trinity High School in Euless, Tex., on Saturday, along with Michael and Cristina Young, who operate the Michael Young Family Foundation. The two couples joined together with others to hold an All-Star hitting and pitching clinic to benefit the two foundations.

"It's fun being around kids and seeing their energy level and innocence," Hamels said. "They have a love of the game and the pure joy of baseball. We get caught up in the seriousness of it. ... This is exciting."

Former Rangers Craig Gentry, Mike Adams, Jamey Wright and Darren Oliver were among the guest instructors.

"It's a lot of fun," Young said. "Every group is different. The 12-year-olds are dialed in, and the 10-year-olds are over there herding cats. The kids are really energized."

Young, 40, is retired, and he has plenty of time on his hands. The Rangers could use a first baseman/designated hitter, but he isn't interested.

"I have four vacations this summer," Young said. "I'm not going to give that up."

Hamels was in Hawaii last week, but next month, he will be reporting to Spring Training in Arizona. He is already throwing on flat ground and will be ready to ramp it up when the Rangers gather in Surprise.

Hamels said he is still "processing" what happened in 2016. The Rangers won the American League West, and Hamels was their Pitcher of the Year, winning 17 games. But they were swept by the Blue Jays in the AL Division Series. Hamels started Game 1 and allowed seven runs in 3 1/3 innings in a 10-1 loss.

"It was a special group of guys," Hamels said. "The way we played … never quit, the number of one-run games we won because of the belief we had in each other. You want to be able to take that further than we did.

"It has taken me a long time to process. I know I didn't do my part."

Hamels is still getting excited about the upcoming season.

"I know we are going to have a good year," Hamels said. "It will be a lot of fun. Our [front office] has done a great job getting the right guys. Everybody is excited about Spring Training. You can be disappointed [about last year], but you learn to channel that into motivation as to what we'll be able to do."

Hamels said he is especially excited to see the Rangers sign right-handers Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross to help fill out a rotation that also includes Yu Darvish and Martin Perez.

"I've pitched against those guys," Hamels said. "They are tough. It's good to have them in our clubhouse. They are talented guys, so I think they are going to come back strong and pitch well. It's nice to know you're going to be on a good pitching staff where every one of those guys -- one through five -- can get the job done.

"I'll be excited to get to Arizona, see the guys and get the juices flowing."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. 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.