Hamels Admits He Rushed Back, Injury Anger, Robel's Work, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Hamels Admits He Rushed Back, Injury Anger, Robel’s Work, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

It is embarrassing but true: one of the biggest pain points for me is when I’m at a kid’s appointment or activity or whatever and I’m tasked with just waiting outside … but the WiFi doesn’t work. Thankfully I can usually tether to my phone, but there are some of these locations where the service is seriously degraded by the walls or something. I should be so lucky that this is the biggest thing that causes me pain today. Not that it matters – I might not be able to publish these Bullets anyway …

  • Recall, in late June, Cole Hamels was humming along as one of the best starting pitchers in the NL when he tweaked an oblique in Cincinnati and was shut down. It was the other side of his body, but since the same thing had happened to him a couple years earlier in Texas, and it kept him out for a couple months while also mucking up his mechanics for a year thereafter, it was a serious concern. But the talk after the injury was all about how it was different this time, it was not as serious, and also Hamels had learned his lesson about trying to return too quickly from an oblique issue. Surely neither he nor the Cubs would allow it to happen this time. Patience was in order.
  • … but he actually only missed a month, and was right back out there the first week of August. In his final 10 starts of the year from there, he posted a 5.79 ERA over just 42 innings with peripherals to match. He was bad. He had some shoulder weakness, too. It was all so ugly.
  • So, then, I don’t want to alter history here or ignore the context at the time – the Cubs were kinda desperate in the rotation – but man, this just makes me so disappointed:

  • From Hamels (NBCSC), with painful emphasis added by me:

“Then trying to come back, I knew that I needed to be back there because I was doing so well and so after healing up [from the oblique] and not throwing a ball for almost 18 days, I rushed back into my throwing program and I was just never able to get my shoulder the right strength. I felt like, you know what, it will slowly go, it will be more like a spring training. But when you’re in games that count, you’re gonna grind away and put a little bit more effort on it when you probably can’t sustain it and my shoulder was just getting more tired and more tired.

My front side was now leaking because I was trying to generate the velocity, so I wasn’t really throwing off my front side as much and I think then the oblique was always in the back of my mind because I didn’t want to re-aggravate it, because if I did, I was gonna be out for the season. There’s just a lot that was really not going well and then I kinda got to that part in the end of September where I really couldn’t lift and throw the ball — my shoulder was just so fatigued.

“I was able to take a week off and everything felt amazing. I was able to pitch the last game, but unfortunately, we were already out of it. Sometimes, I think people look at it like, ‘oh, that was bad.’ But it just was like, ‘no, I finally now feel good. Unfortunately, the season’s over.’ So that was just a tough situation because I never caught up and I thought I could. Maybe that’s what happens as you get older, but I know if I probably would’ve put in the right amount of time in it building up, I would’ve been more effective.

“But unfortunately I think it’s just the nature of who we are, we just want to be out there and compete as fast as we possibly can and I rushed back. It didn’t benefit anybody. That’s kind of the tough part. I loved being able to pitch for my teammates and the Cubs and that city and I feel like I really let them down in that situation. I felt like if I could’ve been at my best, we probably would’ve made the postseason. So that’s something that doesn’t sit well with me …. “

  • It’s not like I don’t understand where Hamels is coming from, and it’s also not like I don’t think his heart was in the right place – and his belief in his body and his ability, too. But this is just another example of how terribly poorly the Cubs have handled injuries and returns from injuries (and playing through injuries!) over the past few years. It’s completely unacceptable that there was no one there to throw up the brakes and make sure that Hamels was truly in a position to be at his best. He said it himself: by the end of the year, all he did was rest a little bit more and then he was fine!
  • A reminder that the Cubs more or less gutted their training staff this year.
  • Robel Garcia has his Dominican Winter League strikeout rate down to 20%, which is less than half what it was in MLB. Some of that is a product of the competition, though even if he were posting that strikeout rate at AAA Iowa it would raise your eyebrow in a good way. The rub is that, like so many guys with huge power and huge swing and miss, as he’s clearly worked to improve his contact rate, his BA/SLG have tanked (he’s still walking a ton, but hitting just .233 and slugging .364). In other words, he’s in that zone where he’s making a lot more contact – good! – but he has to add back in the quality contact. Not sure it’ll work for him, and there’s still going to be a ton of work to do at Iowa next year, but I really dig that he’s so clearly putting in the work even in the DWL.
  • Not really anything new here from the Commissioner:

  • I wonder if we’ll get a bulk announcement soon on an additional group of pitching-focused coaches (the previous group was mostly hitting-focused).
  • Speaking of the Cubs’ revamped development structure, the hitting side is led by Justin Stone – more on/from him:


Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.