SAN DIEGO — Invariably, there is a local reporter who will approach Cole Hamels upon his return to this city, the place where he was born and raised, and ask him about how great it is to pitch at home.
Hamels will entertain them and answer with a bunch of cliches. But as his free agency quickly approaches, Hamels has often been asked about whether he'd like to pitch on the West Coast. Sure, he says, but that's not a deciding factor.
And he certainly doesn't consider home an option. Remember, at the beginning of spring training, Hamels was asked about returning to San Diego. "Why would I want to go where fans only support you from the third inning through the sixth?" Hamels said. He smiled, but the comments hit hard at home.
Chris Jenkins from UT San Diego asked Hamels about it Thursday and the 28-year-old lefthander offered a fascinating look into his mind. He grew up a Padres fan and was crushed when ownership disbanded the core of the 1998 National League champions.
"I mean, I loved that team, and all of a sudden it disappeared," Hamels told Jenkins. "I remember watching Fred McGriff before that, loving that guy, and boom, he's gone. I think it's hard to be a fan to devote your time to players, then see them leave like that."
Instead, Hamels has returned and often dominated. Friday will mark his sixth career start in Petco Park and he has a 1.23 ERA in 36 2/3 innings. In each of the last two seasons, Hamels has tossed eight shutout innings here.
Charlie Manuel will field this lineup behind Hamels:
1. Juan Pierre 7
2. Placido Polanco 5
3. Jimmy Rollins 6
4. Hunter Pence 9
5. Shane Victorino 8
6. Ty Wigginton 3
7. Freddy Galvis 4
8. Brian Schneider 2
9. Cole Hamels 1
Wigginton is 3 for 6 lifetime against Padres starter Edinson Volquez with two home runs and a double. Manuel has been making some personnel decisions based upon matchups, even with small sample sizes.
Volquez leads the league with 12 walks. The Phillies have drawn 22 walks, second fewest in all of baseball. Patience could be imperative.