Philly will always be 'special place' to Hamels

Philly will always be 'special place' to Hamels

ARLINGTON -- The Phillies could take a run at Bryce Harper and Manny Machado following the 2018 season.

Wouldn't it be something if they reunited with Cole Hamels, too?

"I never leave the door closed," Hamels said Tuesday afternoon at Globe Life Park, where he saw the Phillies for the first time since they traded him to Texas in July 2015. "It's a special place and will continue to be a special place. There's always those opportunities. ... I'm thankful and happy I'm in this organization and we were able to work out the trade to go to the team I wanted to most. I've had incredible experiences here. An opportunity to win every year. That's been awesome. I know we're going to be able to do that for the next two years."

The Phillies traded Hamels, Jake Diekman and cash to the Rangers in a deal that sent Jerad Eickhoff, Jake Thompson, Nick Williams, Jorge Alfaro, Alec Asher and Matt Harrison to the Phillies. Hamels' contract with the Rangers runs through 2018, although Texas has a $20 million club option for 2019. If Hamels is pitching well, the Rangers could exercise the option. (It vests automatically if he pitches 400 innings in 2017 and '18.) Of course, if they take the $6 million buyout, Hamels becomes a free agent.

Hamels, 33, will not face the Phillies this week because he is on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right oblique. He said he figures to miss another six weeks.

"It would have been something fun," Hamels said about pitching against the Phillies. "But I think it probably would've been a little more entertaining if it was back in Philly. Unfortunately, neither happened, so we'll just have to wait and see how long you have to wait for that."

Maybe a Phillies-Rangers World Series?

"When?" Hamels said.

Hamels, who still has his home in suburban Philadelphia, pitched for the Phillies from 2006-15, earning 2008 World Series and NLCS MVP honors and throwing a no-hitter against the Cubs at Wrigley Field in his final start before the 2015 trade.

Folks that watch that game still get a pit in their stomach when they see Odubel Herrera awkwardly fall to the ground before catching the game's final out.

"So do I," Hamels said with a smile. "I think he's gotten a lot better in the outfield, from what I've seen."

Hamels said he keeps a tab on his former teammates, at least the few that remain. Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz and others are long gone, while Cameron Rupp, Freddy Galvis, Maikel Franco, Cesar Hernandez and Herrera remain.

"I still have some good family and friends in the Philadelphia area," Hamels said. "We're still talking about the Phillies and knowing whatever's going on with the Phillies."

It's crazy to think that next year is the 10th anniversary of the 2008 World Series team. Hamels was just 24 years old then.

"I thought going to the postseason was just a normal ordeal, and then going to the World Series was something that was the expectation," he said. "And it wasn't a far-fetched expectation. It was going to happen.

"I don't like the fact that it was so long ago, but I guess that's just the case."

The Phillies hope to be World Series contenders again sometime in the next few years. Maybe they need a complementary piece for the rotation at that time -- a veteran with some big-game experience.

Hamels said he would recommend Philadelphia to any free agent.

"There's no better place to play in front of a sold-out crowd every single day," Hamels said. "They [intimidate] the opposing team. It's a great place to play. They really do love baseball. They live and breathe it. That's what you play the game for. I love that I get to do it. "You want to play in front of people who actually understand it and want you to do well and want to make it a hard city for the opposing team. That's home-field advantage."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.