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October 26, 2008

Cole Hamels


Q. As good as you've obviously been in your postseason starts, when you analyze your own performance, do you still find room for improvement?
COLE HAMELS: Of course, even most guys when they throw perfect games, I know they weren't happy. A lot of it has to do with luck. And sometimes you don't realize that throwing a pitch in an area you didn't mean to throw it got the guy out. And I think necessarily if you had thrown it where you wanted to, you might have gotten a hit. And you want to bear down as much as possible and you want to be as perfect as possible, but baseball is not going to allow you to be perfect. This is just a game of skill and luck, all mixed in one.
I look at myself the way I've been able to play and I see certain areas that I can improve on and hopefully I'll be able to do that. I know some areas that I did really well on I might not necessarily be able to come through and do it every game. But you just have to work with what you've got and go after it.

Q. When you're playing a team that runs as much and as well as this team does, what specifically do you have to do as a pitcher to kind of combat that?
COLE HAMELS: Not let them get on (laughter). They have tremendous speed. They definitely read pitchers really well. With that, you just have to vary your looks, vary your times and give a good enough pitch to the catcher, just so that he might have the opportunity to throw them out.
But truly if you really want to control the running game, you just don't allow them to get on.

Q. I know you don't want to look forward and look past today, but if you guys do win today you'll be in kind of a unique situation tomorrow. Have you thought about that? How do you not kind of get yourself too excited about that when you go out there?
COLE HAMELS: I hope I'm in that situation, I truly do, because that means we're one step closer to bringing a World Series to the city of Philadelphia and to our team that's worked so hard to achieve this. I know when I get out there on the mound, though, everything kind of disappears, and I know I have a job to do, and I know I've practiced so hard to execute this game and to also enjoy it, because it is a tremendous moment that not too many people have the opportunity to. Jamie Moyer, it took him 20-something years to finally get that one opportunity, and he wasn't even feeling the best he possibly could.
So looking at it I think I focus more on looking at today and getting one out at a time, going inning by inning and rooting on my teammates. I can't really affect the outcome of today, I can just push them to succeed.

Q. I'd like to ask you about the origin of your change-up. How did you develop it? And when did you realize it could be such a weapon?
COLE HAMELS: Growing up in San Diego, the competition is so heavy that guys can hit 95-mile-an-hour fastballs, every year there's at least three or four top round picks, drafted out of San Diego County. So you can't really try to base everything of pitching off your fastball. You can't really go out there and think that I can blow away everybody, like some people can do in the United States and in college or in high school. But where I grew up, Trevor Hoffman, the save leader there, all his success is because of a change-up. And so I saw that, my high school coach taught me how to throw it, but it was really me going out there and trying to trust it, because when I was growing up I didn't throw 95. That was something that came about when I was about 19, 20. And throwing the low 80s, that's batting practice to guys. You have to throw something that can make an 85-mile-an-hour pitch look 95, and that's what I did with my change-up. And basically it was a circle-change grip that I've been using.
And sometimes I don't have it, but I've moved it around and made it work. And it's been all on the same philosophy of the circle-change.

Q. Charlie called you cocky in a positive way. What's your opinion of that assessment? And how have you been able to handle the big stage of the playoffs and the World Series so well?
COLE HAMELS: I guess that's great that my manager thinks I'm cocky. I don't try to go out there and assume that I'm cocky. I don't want people to, I guess, really think that I'm overstepping my boundaries, because truly in order to show people that you're good you have to play well. And that's how I guess you gain your cockiness.
But I think for me it's confidence. Really, I just have the confidence to go out there. I know I can do well. I have a team behind me that believes in me, and I will be able to do the job the right way if I focus and I guess really hit my locations.

Q. Question on Carlos Ruiz being the hero last night: As a catcher how is he to throw to? What does he mean to the staff?
COLE HAMELS: He's been tremendous. I think this year has definitely been the year for him. Last year was more of a break-in year for him to really get to know the big leagues and to know all of us as pitchers. And I think this year he's definitely stepped up. I think the last half of the season is really when we've been able to connect. We've been able to anticipate pitches. I think it's really hard for a catcher and pitcher to really be together, and that's what we've been able to do through the last half of the season and through the playoffs.
So he's been able to read my mannerisms and understand what I want to throw before he needs to even call the sign. And I think that's something that you really do need to succeed, because there can be times when you're both standing out there, and staring into space because you don't know what pitch to throw. But we've been able to have good signals and been able to really throw. He puts a tremendous target down there for me, that I can really zero in on and really hit the spot.
And him, with his energy and his positive, I guess, influence, he's been really helpful to the team.

Q. Charlie has commented on your coolness under pressure, your teammates have, as well. Have you had to work on your emotions to control them or is it sort of a genetic composure?
COLE HAMELS: You need a psychologist or something. I think growing up, I've always kind of, I guess, been that way. My parents and friends and family have always said that I've never really got too high or too low on anything I've ever done. Getting to the big leagues and what I've been able to do I've been excited about, but I think I've always kind of known that that's not it. There's going to be more to life than, I guess, playing this game, but you want to do it as best you possibly can just to leave at least a positive impact on others who watch.
With going out there in the playoffs and this tremendous experience, and for me I'm going to cherish this moment, but I think I have to kind of push it aside and know that I need to get the job done, instead of really getting overly excited about where I am and what I'm doing. I know I'm going to have many, many years to really look back on it and really, I guess, get excited and understand what I'm doing right now, because truly, I think a lot of players say, you're just kind of numb in this sort of moment, and you just kind of go through the motions because you've worked so hard day-in and day-out that you're mentally ready and you're capable of doing this. But deep down you just kind of push all the emotions aside and do what you've been training your body to do.

Q. Do you consider this groove you're in in the postseason to be predominantly skill or luck?
COLE HAMELS: I think you have to have both, I really do. You have to have the skill to get here, but you do have to have the play go your way, and I think that's what luck is. I think you need to have a ball land fair, which could have been foul. You have to have a call go your way that might have been a ball or a strike. You could have a home run that went your way that wasn't supposed to be a home run, and that's really the difference in the game sometimes. There are events every day in this game, everybody can critique it and criticize, he missed that play, he got that play right or he missed that, and truly that's just baseball. It's not perfect. And you have to make the best of it. You have to turn a bad play into a good play or take that good play and try to run with it even more.

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