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Cole Hamels misses days when Phillies were winners

SAN DIEGO - Cole Hamels never doubted he would return to the postseason. Stay healthy, the former Phillies ace said, and the opportunity could arise. He just did not expect it so soon with the Texas Rangers last season, mere months after the Phillies traded him.

SAN DIEGO - Cole Hamels never doubted he would return to the postseason. Stay healthy, the former Phillies ace said, and the opportunity could arise. He just did not expect it so soon with the Texas Rangers last season, mere months after the Phillies traded him.

Now he is the best pitcher on the team with the best record in the American League at the all-star break. Life is good for the 32-year-old lefthander.

That does not preclude him from being wistful about the great days in Philadelphia.

"I miss the sellouts," Hamels said. "I miss the energy - the energy around the city. It is that tight-knit city when the team is going well. Every day you woke up and people were excited to talk about the game. They couldn't wait to get tickets to go to the game. They were talking about last night's game. It's just the importance of baseball in that everyday life. It made you feel like you were doing something great."

It was not difficult to sense the lack of energy as the Phillies declined. But, Hamels said, what he loved about playing in Philadelphia was how he kept hearing people in the city talk about baseball and about winning.

"They do want to have that baseball distraction," said Hamels, who kept one of his two Newtown Square homes. "When you see it again, it's going to be great."

Hamels, who has a 3.21 ERA in 18 starts this season, has paid a little attention to the Phillies. He praised manager Pete Mackanin. He said he exchanged some text messages with Aaron Nola as he searches for an answer to his current struggles. The two pitchers were teammates for 10 days last season.

"It's having the utmost confidence that he knows he's good," Hamels said. "He really is. He's had success. Taking that experience and knowing that you do belong, that you're going to be able to figure it out, it's a chess match. Sometimes the opposing team gets you a little bit more before you finally figure it out. If you don't lose that confidence, that's how you get yourself to another elite level. And he'll be there."

Extra bases

White Sox lefthander Chris Sale will start for the American League and San Francisco righthander Johnny Cueto will go for the National League. Hamels should pitch the third inning for the AL, manager Ned Yost said. . . . The 30 foreign-born players named to this year's all-star teams are the most in history. . . . With Petco Park hosting the game, just five current stadiums - including Citizens Bank Park - have yet to have an All-Star Game. Two of them, Miami and Washington, won bids for the next two. The Phillies will not seek to host the game until 2026, to coincide with America's 250th anniversary.

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