COLE HAMELS already has a trophy for winning the NLCS MVP and a red Corvette for winning the World Series MVP. Now, he can add a muddied second base to his collection.
The memento sat in his locker yesterday afternoon, fewer than 24 hours after he became the first Phillies pitcher to steal a base since Curt Schilling did it in 1997.
The play was no fluke. Hamels and manager Charlie Manuel credited first-base coach Davey Lopes with the decision on Tuesday night. Yesterday, Lopes said his thought process essentially boiled down to, "Why not?"
"It was done for us to win a ballgame," Lopes said. "The way the game was looking, another run was huge."
Hamels was at first base with two outs and Jimmy Rollins at the plate. Lopes, who has carte blanche when making base-stealing decisions, noticed that Giants lefthander Jonathan Sanchez was taking about 1.7 seconds to make his delivery to home plate. A time of 1.3 to 1.4 seconds is generally considered a swift delivery. In addition, the Giants were not holding Hamels on first base. So before Sanchez' 1-2 pitch, Lopes told Hamels to go.
"You've got the surprise factor going," Lopes said.
As for the possibility of an injury - after all, Hamels sprained his ankle while fielding a bunt earlier this season - Lopes said he was not concerned.
"I don't feel like my [butt] is on the line," Lopes said. "I feel the injury factor is always there . . . If Charlie says don't run him, we don't run him."
Both Lopes and Manuel said that former general manager Pat Gillick had encouraged them to let pitchers steal more bases. Lopes said he last sent a pitcher when he was coaching in San Diego. Andy Ashby arrived safely without a throw from home.
"Pat's been on my [butt] for 2 years about it," Lopes said.
But don't expect Hamels' first career steal to start a trend.
"You aren't going to see pitchers running all over the place," Lopes said.
Clay Condrey, who has pitched in just three games since June 18 thanks to a strained oblique, is getting closer to returning to the Phillies. The righthander is scheduled to make another rehab appearance today, after which the team will look to get him an outing in which he will throw two innings. Lefthander J.C. Romero has been with the team throughout the homestand and is hopeful to return in mid-September.
Charlie Manuel said prior to the game that the Phillies had some interest in acquiring righthander Brad Penny, who started last night for the Giants, his new team after he was released by the Red Sox before the trade deadline . . . The Phillies entered last night leading the National League with 666 runs . . . Infielder Brad Harman was outrighted to Double A Reading, completing his removal from the 40-man roster . . . Paul Hoover was recalled from Triple A Lehigh Valley to serve as the team's third catcher for September. The 33-year-old veteran hit .253 with one home run and 28 RBI for the IronPigs . . . General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said there were no imminent plans to call up any more minor leaguers, although more moves will likely occur before the next homestand . . . Righthander Kyle Drabek and outfielder Michael Taylor are the 2008 winners of the Paul Owens Award for the best pitcher and player, respectively, in the Phillies minor league system. They will receive their awards during a pregame presentation on Sept. 15, when the Phillies host the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park.
For more Phillies coverage and opinion, read David Murphy's blog, High Cheese, at http://go.philly.com/highcheese.