CLEARWATER, Fla. - Cole Hamels said he has one final hurdle to jump before he moves into that elite class of pitchers like New York Mets lefthander Johan Santana:
Hamels has not been able to stay healthy, which is why he said yesterday at Bright House Networks Field that his No. 1 goal this season is finding a way to stay on the mound to pitch at least 200 innings.
"Knowing the team that we have and the lineup that we have, I shouldn't not be able to win 20 games if that happens," he said.
Health is an important issue to Hamels. He caused a stir last season when he said he thought he never would have needed a trip to the disabled list had the Phillies provided him a chiropractor as he had requested.
Good news, Cole.
The Phillies are getting one.
"Really?" Hamels said. "I've always thought it was beneficial. Ever since I've used one, it's done wonders for me. This is nice. It's great that they're going out of their way to get a network going. I know I do have a bunch of guys in a vast majority of the cities that I've been able to go to. If they're able to get those guys, that's great. But it doesn't matter. They're putting in the effort, which is good. I definitely can't complain."
The Phillies haven't hired one yet, but they are looking at a doctor of chiropractic or a doctor of osteopathy.
"We're going through that process," Phillies athletic trainer Scott Sheridan said. "We're looking at cost. Do we want them at the ballpark? Can we make it feasible for them to have their practice and still suit our needs? Can we make that work? That's really where we are right now."
"There is a benefit, otherwise we wouldn't be discussing it," Phillies assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "Really, it's finding the right person. You can find people who have had degrees in a variety of things. You don't know how effective they will be. We're doing the research to make sure we have the most effective person available to us."
So why the change?
First, Hamels was not the only Phillies player who had requested chiropractic help. And after the season, as the Phillies' medical staff evaluated the 2007 season and looked toward the future, the members discussed the possibility with front-office officials about chiropractic care.
"I think we did a nice job of reevaluating what we had," Sheridan said. "That's the type of stuff you do every year. I certainly think that the players' needs change as the game goes on. We're going to go through times when you find a group of players that need one thing, and we have to provide it. Certainly, it's our job as the medical team and administration to adapt to our needs.
"I don't have any problems with chiropractic care. Cole and I have had open discussions about it. I'm trying to provide him something that can help him."
When the Phillies are on the road, they hope to have a network of doctors in place. The Phillies have received help from the Eagles in that regard. The NFL, for example, has a network of chiropractors.
"So if we're in Arizona we can say this is the guy that is recommended," Sheridan said. "It's somebody that we can feel confident to call. That's the biggest thing. You want to make sure the network you create or the person you bring in agrees with our philosophy of care. It's not coming in, manipulating somebody and just walking away. It's coming in, evaluating, then manipulating and then devising a plan of care for that person. We want somebody who is going to develop a plan of care that matches our philosophy."
Hamels still thinks the lack of chiropractic care played a role in his trip to the DL last year.
"It's a vast majority of things that I could have done to prevent it, but I know it would have helped," he said.
If it helps this year, Hamels thinks 20 wins is a very attainable goal.
The Phillies could adjust to that production just fine.