Cole Hamels has allowed four runs across 20 innings over his last three starts, lowering his ERA from 2.51 to 2.40 for the year. The unlikely secret to his recent success? Poison oak.
According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, Hamels contracted poison oak on both of his legs while fishing on teammate Roy Oswalt’s property in Unionville, Missouri during an off-day on June 20. While Oswalt had the presence of mind to wear long pants, Hamels paid the price for wearing shorts.
“It didn’t work out too well for me,” Hamels said, smiling. “I don’t know if I’ll be fishing on (Oswalt’s) property without (long) pants on anytime soon.”
Hamels described the pain as “razor blades on the back of my legs every time I’d take a step.” The 27-year-old southpaw took quite a bit of ribbing from his teammates, but was able to pitch through the condition for subsequent starts against the Athletics on June 25 and the Red Sox on June 30 before his symptoms finally began to ease this past Tuesday against the Marlins.
Hamels, who was just named to his second All-Star team, is 10-4 with a 2.40 ERA over 18 starts this season. His 0.95 WHIP is the lowest in the National League.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.