For the first time since being dealt away in July 2015, 2008 World Series Most Valuable Player Cole Hamels has returned to Citizens Bank Park — nearly one month after missing out on the 10-year reunion of the Charlie Manuel-led, second-ever Philadelphia Phillies championship team.
"[Heidi and I] still communicate with a lot of the guys. I think they were sending me a lot of videos and texts of just the fun they were having here," Hamels told reporters prior to Friday's series opener. "I guess I'll have to catch them up in that 20-year one, if the Phillies end up having one."
Hamels' last start in a Phillies uniform was a no-hitter opposite RHP Jake Arrieta and the Chicago Cubs. Now, both aces are ironically wearing uniforms for the opposite teams, as both clubs fight for their qualification into the 2018 postseason. The no-hitter was just one of the many memories Hamels made through nine-plus seasons and 295 games with the Phillies, while posting a 114-90 record, 3.30 ERA and 1.145 WHIP.
"It's always nice to be able to come here. The memories ... there's so many. It's a place that, obviously, I got my start in," Hamels said. "We did really well and created a lot of who I am today. It's just [nice] to kind of pay my respects and what the organization was able to do for me, the fan base that was able to support me and a lot of my teammates that are obviously not playing anymore."
"It's just a tremendous place to start your career and to be able to accomplish what we did."
The four-time All-Star called being in the visitor's clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park as being "a little bit different."
"At the same, I guess I finally get to check that off my list of one of the last visiting clubhouses I've been in now," Hamels said. "I think the only time we ever went in the visiting clubhouse was to do a lot of that media video promotions in the offseason."
Hamels was originally slated to start in Sunday's finale opposite National League Cy Young Award candidate RHP Aaron Nola, however Cubs manager Joe Maddon's decision to go with a six-man rotation pushed the left-hander's next start back to Monday against the Milwaukee Brewers. Hamels said it would not be "fair" to any of his Cubs teammates to move him around in the rotation so he could start in Philadelphia.
"I just want to go out, pitch and win. However they're going to slot me in, it's not my decision. I think for us, right now, we got a lot of games and no days off," Hamels said. "All of us are pitching really well, and it's not fair to any individual to kind of move me around for this sort of situation."
"It's a team, and I'm just lucky enough to be a part of it ... trying to pitch and help them win."