David Dahl changes number ahead of Cole Hamels’ retirement ‘out of respect’

Philadelphia Phillies

After straining a muscle in his right thigh last season, David Dahl went to the San Diego Padres’ facility in Arizona to train. For a month, he worked out with Cole Hamels, who was making one last comeback attempt from a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder.

“Not only was he a great pitcher,” Dahl said Friday, “but how he treated everyone and how he came to work every day, I just respect him a ton.”

Coincidentally, Dahl was issued No. 35 — Hamels’ old digit — when he signed a minor-league contract with the Phillies in spring training. But when he heard the Phillies were planning a retirement night for Hamels, the outfielder decided it only made sense to switch.

» READ MORE: The game has changed and so has Cole Hamels, who drilled Bryce Harper in 2012: ‘That was what you did’

And so, while Hamels was being celebrated in a pregame ceremony at Citizens Bank Park, Dahl watched from the Phillies’ dugout with No. 31 on his back.

“It was something I just thought about,” Dahl said. “Just out of respect for him and what he’s accomplished in this [organization] — three All-Star games, World Series, World Series MVP — that’s just kind of what I was thinking. I thought it was a good idea to just change numbers.”

The Phillies haven’t signaled an intention to retire Hamels’ number. In the past, the guideline — owner John Middleton said the team never had a formal policy — was that only players enshrined in the Hall of Fame would be eligible to have their numbers retired. They broke that tradition in 2020, when they retired Dick Allen’s No. 15.

But unlike with Chase Utley (No. 26), Jimmy Rollins (No. 11), and Ryan Howard (No. 6), the Phillies didn’t take Hamels’ number out of circulation after trading him to the Rangers at the deadline in 2015. Since then, No. 35 has been worn by three players: Oscar Mercado in 2022, Drew Ellis last year, and Dahl this season.

Dahl was playing for the Rockies in 2018 when he said Hamels, then with the Cubs, “carved me up” in the wild-card game.

“He kept throwing me left-on-left changeups, and I was rolling over [and grounding out],” Dahl said. “It actually made me work on that for the entire offseason. I faced him the next year, it was in Colorado, and I got three knocks off of him.”

» READ MORE: Cole Hamels returns to be ‘the center’ of the Bank once more and retire a Phillie

Dahl didn’t tell Hamels about his number-switching plans until they randomly bumped into each other Thursday. Hamels was going to a Tim McGraw concert at the Wells Fargo Center; Dahl and his wife were going to dinner.

“We ran into each other on the street and we talked about it,” Dahl said. “He’s such an awesome person. He talked to me for a while. He’s just a great dude.”

Revenge series

Since reporting for spring training, many Phillies players have maintained they are motivated by losing to the Arizona Diamondbacks at home in Games 6 and 7 of last year’s NL Championship Series.

What, then, does it mean to face their vanquishers again this weekend?

For manager Rob Thomson, it’s another opportunity to consider what he might have done differently in those final two games. One move stands out from the others.

» READ MORE: The Phillies won’t lack for All-Stars. Here’s the cases for each candidate, including two intriguing long shots.

“There was a pinch-hit opportunity for [Johan] Rojas,” said Thomson, who stuck with the light-hitting center fielder with the bases loaded and two out in the fourth inning of Game 7. “It was pretty early in the game, but still, I’d probably do it a little differently.

“That’s the way it is. You make a decision, and when it doesn’t work out, it looks bad and it’s considered a mistake. You’ve got to live with it.”

Rojas rollin’

Not to make too much of one game, but the Phillies were encouraged by recently demoted Rojas’ at-bats Thursday night in going 4-for-4 with a homer for triple-A Lehigh Valley.

“Outside of the numbers, he cut down his swing, he used the entire field, got a bunt base hit, got a walk, saw 19 pitches,” Thomson said. “That’s what the goal was. That’s why we sent him there to get that done, and [Thursday] night was good.”

In three games since the Phillies sent him down, Rojas was 5-for-13 with a walk and a stolen base. Thomson maintains that the Phillies’ best alignment includes Rojas in center field, as long as he refines his plate approach and improves his bunting and baserunning.

» READ MORE: Phillies’ outfielder need looms large ahead of the trade deadline after Johan Rojas is sent to triple A

One thing Thomson isn’t concerned about: Rojas’ attitude.

“When he left my office after we had all talked to him, I felt pretty good about him taking [triple-A] seriously and not losing any days by feeling sorry for himself,” Thomson said. “Obviously he’s kicked it in.”

Extra bases

Utility infielder Kody Clemens (back spasms) began a triple-A assignment at first base. He’s scheduled to DH on Saturday, then play left field Sunday before potentially rejoining the Phillies next week. … Righty reliever Luis Ortiz returned from a minor-league assignment with a strained forearm. He will undergo further evaluation. … Entering the weekend, the Phillies played 32 games in a row in front of crowds of at least 30,000 fans. It’s their most well-attended stretch since a 41-game run of 30,000 or more fans per game in the summer of 2011. … Zack Wheeler (8-4, 2.84 ERA) is scheduled to start Saturday against Diamondbacks lefty Tommy Henry (2-2, 6.23).

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *