You've successfully played with varying degrees of layoff during the postseason so far, how do you do it?
COLE HAMELS: That's a good question. I don't know.
With having the layoff I think the first couple of days after clinching, you're just so excited to get to the next round, so you really kind of forget about what the next task at hand is. So going with I believe, what, six or seven days off, we've had a really good routine where I've still kind of been mentally staying into the game with keeping my work out routine the same, throwing in the bullpen. Because I can't throw in a live game, I just throw in the bullpen. And it's just the focus that you have to have.
When I go out to my bullpen, I do try to visualize that there's a hitter out there, and I try to make every pitch count, as though it's a game situation.
Being around these guys, though, I think it makes things easier, and ease the tensions that you would have or the distractions, because everybody is so excited and so focused to play. We just have something in common that I think is going to hopefully help us progress all the way through the Series.
Before the last series you talked about the importance of keeping focus in these big games. How tough is that to do now that it's the World Series and you know how much more these games mean?
COLE HAMELS: See, I think that's the thing that as a player you don't look at. I think from everybody that is outside, there's a significance with the game that we're playing. For us the World Series is something that you look back on, not when you're playing. It's something that I think I will cherish probably ten years from now, and I'll probably go through my head with what was going on, what I was thinking, who I was playing, what results I had. And it also is kind of I guess more shocking for myself and for the Rays just because of how young we are and we're in the World Series.
When you play 10, 15 years and never make the World Series, then I think this kind of stage becomes a little bit more, and it can be either more burdening or it can be more exciting. For me, because I played three years, been in the playoffs twice, World Series once, I think it's kind of a normal thing, and I hope it is. But going out there knowing that you have to get a job done. I know with the extra added attention it's more excitement, with family coming in. You just have to push that aside and let people know I have a job to do. If we want to celebrate, we can celebrate over the holidays.
This Tampa Bay Rays team doesn't have what anyone would call statistics; they get the job done. When you look at that lineup, what do you see?
COLE HAMELS: A lot of talent. The majority of all these players have been top round picks, so they were from either teams that did well, either in high school or college, or they just did well themselves, because they either played on a Team USA or some sort of level of play that they excelled in, therefore, they became a top round pick. And as a top round pick, myself, I think we have the same sort of mental mindset to go out and play this game. We play as hard as we possibly can, we work as hard as we possibly can, but we have the extra added talent to get the job done when it's needed.
The Rays I think are .700 or something in home percentage. You've always talked you want to be the guy in that clinching or key game, but in a sense is Game 1 that kind of a game, because of who you're playing?
COLE HAMELS: Of course. Anytime you come into somebody else's home, it's going to be louder, they're going to have that more, I guess, excitement level, just knowing that they have the comfort level because it's some place they've played 81 games. They've done very well here. That's something where, it is, you have to come in there, you have to be prepared to, I guess, deal with the crowd, but also with the team. Because if you feel comfortable in a place you're going to be able to play to your potential. And I know that's what they're going to be able to do. You just have to go out there and be very narrow minded and really try to get the job done because this is Game 1. I think sets the table and the tone for what the series is going to be like. You're just going out there. And I know that everything I possibly can do, I hope it's going to be benefitting our team.
If you face Kazmir, you have sort of relationship with him, don't you? Could you explain it, go into a little bit of detail?
COLE HAMELS: Both Scott and I were the drafted the same year. He was two picks ahead of me. I think we were always compared through high school and with being a top round pick, and through that you kind of get to know a guy, not on a personal level, but on a level of respect.
With that, because we played against him in Spring Training, we've been able to at least talk, and I think we relate at the same level, because we've had to go through the same experiences.
He's a tremendous pitcher. I don't know about his hitting; he's playing in the American League, but I'm sure he's pretty good. But he's a good guy and he has a competitive spirit that is one of the best. And so being able too pitch against him will be a great opportunity for both of us, because being compared at such an early age, and finally to be able to compete against each other at this sort of stage makes things a little bit better.
It seems like the Rays are kind of the choice to win the Series. Do you guys feel like underdogs? Do you use any of that talk as motivation?
COLE HAMELS: You know, I know it's all other people's speculations, but as our team, I guess when you look at match ups or just the way that we've played I think we're very even. And I think that's what the World Series is all about. It's about two teams that have played hard and have won their divisions. I guess the American League East is always the talk of the town anytime baseball season comes because of Boston and the Yankees. Any team that can beat Boston and the Yankees is pretty impressive. But I think the National League has gained more respect due to the amount of the players that have come into the league with trades or free agency.
So I think we're at a very even level. I don't know what they're really looking at. But I just think we're very equal. I can't say who to favor. I'm going to pick my side, no doubt. But I think it really is going to bring a good competitive level to this World Series.
Does having your Spring Training here and playing against the Rays in exhibition games help you prepare for this?
COLE HAMELS: It can, but I know when you play people in March and also you're playing them in October, a lot of people have changed. And that's what is baseball. In March everybody is just trying to get used to baseball again, and you're really just trying to get yourself prepared for a season. Here you're supposed to have everything prepared and everything ready to go.
Being able to at least see certain hitters does help a bit because you can see how they stand at the plate, see their speed, see their arms. So that will help. But I know if you ever compare my Spring Training numbers to season numbers, they're not good. So I wouldn't go on my, I guess, my results in Spring Training and how I faired there, how I'm going to do this week. I think it does help being able to play in Tampa for Spring Training and playing the World Series here, I think we're going to have a pretty good crowd, versus playing on the West Coast. I know having fans that have been down here due to moves and Spring Training. I think you'll see a lot more red than people expect.
Cole, your team's record against the AL is not something that you...
COLE HAMELS: Not so good (laughs).
Why do you think that is? I think it wasn't so great, I'm trying to do this by memory, I'm not sure it was great last year. You're supposed to be an AL like club. Why do you think you struggled against them?
COLE HAMELS: I don't know. From a pitching standpoint going into an AL home team, the designated hitter can definitely come into effect. I know with the pitcher if you get into a jam and you know the pitcher is coming up, you have a feeling you can get out of it. When you come into an AL team, and you're facing a No. 9 hitter that can get 10 home runs, 15 home runs, knock in 60 or 80 RBIs, it's a lot different than a pitcher standing there. It makes things tougher. But I think it's kind of the when you go and you play the American League teams in June, you've just grown so accustomed to playing National League teams and sort of that style of baseball, and they added in, you're playing two weeks worth of AL teams, I think it's a shock to everybody. I don't know what it is, if it's more of a shock to the National League than the American League, but I know for some odd reason the National League has not been able to overcome the American League.
How aware are you of just exactly what a championship would mean to these fans in Philadelphia?
COLE HAMELS: I think we've got a perspective of what we were able to accomplish last year to make the playoffs, and seeing the attention that it brought and the way that the fans came out and were celebrating. Going into this season the amount of sell outs we had, the amount of people you see on the street wearing Phillies' gear, I think that kind of shows that what we've been able to accomplish, we've been able to pull fans back into the game of baseball, because the city of Philadelphia has been so hockey and basketball and football minded, and to finally bring some fans back I think really does show its appreciation of all the hard work we've done. Giving the attention that has come through the playoff games I think showed what a Philadelphia fan is all about. And they are hardcore and they're appreciative, 100 percent, and they're definitely a fan you do want to win for, because they will be able to, I guess, worship you at a level that we don't really see or really experience, but I guess seeing that appreciation of what it will bring to the city is something we definitely want to do over and over again.
At the work out yesterday, are there any concerns with the unfamiliarity of the ballpark and the dimensions?
COLE HAMELS: Not really. Maybe I'll be concerned if the ball hits the catwalk and the guy doesn't watch it. I know I have a job to do of pitching. I know the mound is the same distance from home plate as any other ballpark, and I can't really effect where a guy is going to hit it. I have enough confidence in our players that they're going to either be able to catch the balls or, I guess, throw them in the proper way.
But for my job I just need to go out there and pitch and I guess try to keep the Rays at bay.
Can you talk about what the two previous postseason appearances this year have meant to you in terms of giving you confidence? I think the adrenaline rush, you talked about that, and then settling down. Are you going to be able to take what you've done in those two previous outings and build on both of those? You know, they were outstanding efforts.
COLE HAMELS: I hope so, otherwise it might be a quick couple of pitches or innings. It's just being able to go out there and feel comfortable. I have eight guys behind me that are going to stay in there. They believe in me. I know all this hard work that I've done for the past couple of days, just being able to go out there and make a pitch is something that I know I'm capable of doing. And I think that's all I can really focus on.
I know there is an excitement level and I think I've been able to hone in on it and control it. There are going to be points in time I'm going to overthrow a ball in a tight situation, but I think everybody does that. That can happen anytime in the season. But it's just one of the biggest stages in sports, and I think going out there and being able to succeed is what you want to do, but you can't necessarily go into the game knowing that you're going to do it. You really have to go in there and let it happen. And that's what I'm going to try to do.
What do you know about the 1980 World Series, which was the last time and the only time the Phillies won? You weren't even born, were you?
COLE HAMELS: I wasn't born, so I really didn't follow it one bit (laughter). I was born in San Diego, I was more of a West Coast guy. I didn't know about the Phillies until they drafted me. That's when I think all these guys that played on these teams, they're all from different cities. I don't think we really appreciate what we have, until we're actually on that team, and we've played for them and played for the city and gotten to really get that familiarity. And I think now getting to know the city of Philadelphia, we want to be our own team. We don't want to hide in the shadow of 1980. That's something where we believe in ourselves enough, and we're going to be able to go out there and do it.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less