It already has been a year.
Phillies lefthander Cole Hamels, who will pitch tonight against the Milwaukee Brewers at Citizens Bank Park, made his big-league debut on May 12, 2006, in Cincinnati.
In 31 career starts, he is 14-9 with a 3.90 ERA. That's notable when stacked up against the first full seasons of future Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Randy Johnson.
Maddux was 6-14 with a 5.61 ERA in 1987; Glavine, 7-17 with a 4.56 ERA in 1988; and Johnson, 7-13 with a 4.82 ERA in 1989.
"It's nice because I don't get ragged on and made fun of," Hamels said with a laugh. "Now people can't say, 'You don't have a year of big-league time.' Now I can say, 'Yeah, I do.' . . . A year is a steppingstone for me to get closer to Jamie [Moyer's] numbers."
Hamels is 5-1 with a 3.46 ERA this season.
In this week's Sports Illustrated, 11 big-league talent evaluators were asked to pick their dream rotation of pitchers with less than one year of big-league service time.
Boston's Daisuke Matsuzaka received eight first-place votes to finish first with 45 points. Hamels received two first-place votes to finish second with 40 points. New York Yankees prospect Phil Hughes finished third with 25 points.
Hamels is supremely confident and sets his goals high, so what does he think of his first full year?
"I would love not to fail, but that's just part of the game and you're supposed to learn from that," he said. "Even the best pitchers - the Nolan Ryans, Steve Carltons, Greg Madduxes - have a lot of losses. But they improved and learned from those losses, and that enabled them to win."
Ruben Amaro Jr., the Phillies assistant general manager, said the team couldn't be more pleased with Hamels.
"What becomes the most impressive thing about him is that he really believes in himself and he has a tremendous amount of poise and he can make adjustments," Amaro said.
"He makes adjustments very quickly," Amaro said. "That's what happens with guys who have star potential: Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Johan Santana. They made adjustments early in their career. And Cole certainly seems to be one of those guys. As long as he stays on the field, we're a happy group."
Villone up, Phillies out? The Yankees called up lefthander Ron Villone from triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Villone would have become a free agent if he had not been called up yesterday, and the Phillies might have had interest.
If the Phils still want Villone, they will have to trade for him, but that might be tough. How dry is the trade market for bullpen help?
"Oh, it's dry," Amaro said. "You will see very little movement unless somebody decides they're going to send two or three of their best prospects in their system for a middle reliever. It's supply and demand."
Extra bases. Righthander Ryan Madson, who is on the disabled list with a strained left abdominal muscle, will make rehab appearances Friday and Sunday for double-A Reading. He could be activated Tuesday in Florida. . . . Righthander Tom Gordon, on the disabled list with inflammation in his right shoulder, was out of the hospital after being admitted Friday with an upper respiratory infection. The Phillies do not have a timetable for when he will begin throwing. . . . First baseman Ryan Howard, on the disabled list with a strained left quadriceps, will remain in Philadelphia next week while the team is on the road. Former trainer Jeff Cooper, who has been hired as a consultant, will oversee Howard's rehabilitation.