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‘Perfect right here’ night at the Bank brings Cole Hamels full circle

PHILADELPHIA — If it was closure that Cole Hamels was searching for Friday night, his trek back to Citizens Bank Park was well worth it.

“I’ve definitely gotten the closure,” Hamels said shortly after a retirement ceremony held before a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. “I think this was perfect right here.”

Several of Hamels’ field associates from his 10 Phillies seasons were on hand to offer goodbye hugs, along with organization notables like Mike Schmidt and surprise guest Steve Carlton, representing the lineage of left-handed greatness in which Hamels has been ordained.

He talked of the team members from the 2008 and 2009 World Series clubs as having a special bond.

“I’m just really appreciative of the time I had here,” he said.

Like so many others before him that finally had to call it quits, most of whom never got to say goodbye the way Hamels did, he admitted it was tough to really leave.

“I think as an athlete you never know when the time is up,” Hamels said. “You chase it. You go until you can’t. You don’t want somebody else to tell you. So I feel like I left it all out there. I did go through a pretty significant shoulder surgery (two years ago), and that the likelihood of coming back was … I think it was less than 1%. But what I’ve always told myself is that’s the challenge and you’ve done it before, so why not try it again?

“If I try it and fail, at least I did it. At least I gave it an effort.”

Hamels went 114-90 with a 3.30 ERA in his nearly 10 full seasons in Philadelphia.

He won seven postseason starts, including four in 2008 en route to becoming a World Series MVP. He’d pitch parts of four seasons in Texas, two with the Chicago Cubs and then one last game in an Atlanta Braves uniform in 2020, lasting three innings.

“That last pro game was in a COVID year, with no fans in the stands and my shoulder falling apart,” Hamels said. “I got three innings in, and (Marcel) Ozuna robbing somebody of a home run for my last out. It’s a crazy moment of how you start out and how you end it. It’s never going to be how you want it, but you just enjoy it.

“To get to the highest level and maintain the highest level as an athlete, it’s not supposed to be easy. Trying to capture anything I have left, I chased it and I’m proud of the time and effort that I put in.”

He kept it up, of course, went through a variety of surgeries in preparation of a 2023 comeback at age 39 that never really happened.

But Hamels is now content to look back and soak it all in. Even the time when there was speculation of a trade back to Philadelphia in 2018 before he was sent to the Cubs, and again rumors of him signing here a couple of years later.

Hamels revealed it was all just talk. He had last pitched for the Phillies in 2015 at Wrigley Field, throwing a no-hitter in that last Phillies start. He didn’t want to go out for them any other way.

“When you leave a team — and I left on such a high note — there’s going to be an expectation,” Hamels said. “At the time I kind of understood what was wrong with my shoulder, and I’m just trying to buy time. That’s why I signed with a couple of the other teams, because they gave me an opportunity where I didn’t have to be the Cole Hamels in Philly. They knew what I could do and it was ‘just get us through a lineup.’

“In Philly, there were going to be a bigger expectations. This city that I’ve done everything for and that did everything for me, you want to give them a good show. You want to be able to entertain, you want to be able to win. If you don’t have 100% of everything going, you don’t want to be a letdown.”

Now 40, Hamels is working on “a year or two” of truly leaving the game behind and spending time with his family. But he retains a home in the Philadelphia suburbs and is looking forward to a day in which he finds his niche … even if that happens here.

“I’d like to put a full effort in, but I know there’s a learning curve in everything you do,” Hamels said. “The front office is different, coaching and teaching is different. But just to have the opportunity to look at what I might be good at and where I can add in my experience and expertise … They have a great group of pitchers here and this is a great team. So if it fits and there’s an opportunity, I would definitely look at it.”

Source: Berkshire mont

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