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Notes: Hamels OK with early struggles

Notes: Hamels OK with early struggles

ST. PETERSBURG -- Cole Hamels is still working out the kinks, just like he did last spring.

So pay no attention to the 12.60 ERA through his first two outings.

"That's something I got used to last spring with all the home runs and runs I gave up," Hamels said. "It's part of the routine of Spring Training struggles. I don't necessarily call them struggles, because I'd rather make all my mistakes now because I can correct them in the end."

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Hamels' "mistakes" revolved around his not being able to locate his fastball inside. Because his velocity is still returning, his changeup was easy to detect and hit.

"I was trying to throw strikes with all three pitches and try to keep counts down," Hamels said. "I had one of those starts where I just couldn't locate, a 'second-start syndrome.'"

Hamels had a poor Spring Training last season as he worked himself into shape, and went 15-5 with a 3.39 ERA during the season, so he's fine with experimenting. He wants to further refine his curveball, but that will come, too.

While 20 games is an obvious goal for Hamels, he's also focused on topping 200 innings and tripling his complete-game total. Last season, the lefty had two in 28 starts.

"If I can keep my pitch counts down, I can go deep into games," Hamels said. "The main thing is complete games. If I can get six of those, that's a good sign that I can be durable."

Manager Charlie Manuel is all for it.

"I'd like to see him get 32 complete games," Manuel said. "That sounds good to me."

Castro shines: Fabio Castro sailed through three hitless innings on Friday, allowing just a walk. He remains a candidate for a bullpen spot and is a dark-horse candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation.

"He's one of our young guys and when he pitches well, you notice," Manuel said.

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More game stuff: Greg Dobbs, who will see time at a number of positions this season, started in left field and went 1-for-2 with a double. He's hitting .357. ... Top prospect Carlos Carrasco was hit hard in 1 2/3 innings, surrendering six earned runs on five hits and four walks. ... The Phillies and Rays played extra innings on Friday to compensate for the rain-shortened game on Thursday.

The winds of St. Petersburg: Third baseman Pedro Feliz learned about the howling winds in his first appearance at Progress Energy Park.

Feliz endured a journey tracking a foul ball. It began to his left and ended up landing just out of his reach by the Phillies dugout.

"That was crazy," he said. "I've never seen anything like that before."

Still mourning: The news is still hard for Joe Savery to discuss, even three days later.

Brett Favre is retired, and the Phillies' pitching prospect will have to deal with it.

"It still hurts. [Tuesday] was a bad, bad day," Savery said. "He was far and away my favorite athlete. The way he played and handled himself. They use the term 'child-like enthusiasm.' He wasn't always the mechanically sound player. He just did it. I loved watching him."

Savery is from Texas, not Wisconsin, but his family hails from Mississippi, so he claims that as a connection. He, too, was crushed, that the Packers lost the NFC Championship game to the New York Giants, as he planned to go to the Super Bowl to watch Favre.

"It was set up so perfect," Savery said. "[The Packers] were at home in the cold, but couldn't pull it out. As for the retirement, you knew it was coming, but it was hard to imagine it actually happening."

Up next: Travis Blackley, a candidate for the fifth-starter's job, is scheduled to start against the Indians in Winter Haven, Fla., at 1:05 p.m. ET. Manuel, who always wants to beat his former team, is bringing most of his regulars.

There will also be intrigue at the Carpenter Complex, where Kris Benson is scheduled to face Jamie Moyer in a Minor League game. It will be Benson's first game action in more than a year.

"It's going to be fun," said Benson, who last pitched in the Majors on Sept. 27, 2006, as a member of the Orioles. "It'll be one step closer to putting me in good position for March."

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

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