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Notes: Hamels always stays cool

Notes: Hamels always stays cool

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Ice water courses through Cole Hamels' veins, figuratively and literally.

Not only is the second-year pitcher a highly confident sort on the pitching mound, but part of his daily routine includes soaking in an ice tub, a treatment which is designed to help his back and keep him on the mound.

"[I] drop the temperature down as low as it can possibly can," he said. "I get in there for about 15 minutes. Sometimes I'll do it twice. I'll do hot/cold, hot/cold, whatever it takes."

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Hamels is usually at the park around 7 a.m. ET for the start of exercises. He's usually alone, except for fellow workout fiend Jamie Moyer. Hamels' total workout, which consists of core exercises and general fitness, lasts between one to two hours, and the left-hander has gotten to the point where he knows it's something he has to maintain.

He understands that health questions will always follow his career, despite the fact that he stayed healthy in 2006 and contributed mightily to the team's playoff push.

"[The injuries were] something I caused," Hamels said. "It was a lack of appreciation of what I do and a lack of focus. I thought I could go out and do everything without preparing. I brought it on myself, and I have to correct it. It's something I'm going to do every day to prove to people and myself that I can go out there and be healthy every day."

Hamels doesn't have to prove the quality of his pitches, as he breezed through three innings against the Yankees on Sunday at Bright House Networks Field. It instantly brought memories of his 2004 debut in a Phillies uniform, when he fanned Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Tony Clark, all using his devastating changeup.

He was talked about as a future ace then, and began to live up to that potential last season. After posting a 6.27 ERA in June and July, the southpaw roared to a 2.60 ERA over his last 11 starts and was the team's best pitcher. On a club with Freddy Garcia and Brett Myers, Hamels might still be the ace.

"He keeps his cool," manager Charlie Manuel said. "He doesn't get rattled. He's like ice water."

With no touch of arrogance, Hamels places a high amount of importance on dominating the opposition and wears his selection as a former first-round draft pick with pride.

"If you're drafted out of high school or college [in the first round], you must have been the leader on that team, to do something so special, and you did well enough to be drafted," he said. "I've always been the player who tried to put things on my shoulders when the time came, and tried to pull the team out of a rut or give them that extra mile. Hopefully when my time comes, I'll be able to step up."

As for the ice water to which Hamels has become accustomed, teammate Scott Mathieson has a suggestion. He's invited Hamels to take part in the annual polar bear swim in Mathieson's native Vancouver, British Columbia. The swim takes place on New Year's Day, and swimmers plunge into English Bay, where the water is, well, cold.

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Hamels said he wouldn't feel anything because his body has adjusted to low temperatures, but added that the date represented a problem. New Year's Day would be too close to his one-year anniversary. Hamels got married on New Year's Eve.

"I don't think [my wife would] approve," he said.

Flash card: While his teammates tangled in Fort Myers on Saturday, Tom Gordon pitched a simulated game in relative quiet at the Carpenter Complex, part of a plan to have him ready for Opening Day.

There's nothing wrong with him and no reason for concern, Gordon said. He's throwing all the pitches in his arsenal, and he said his shoulder feels "great" thanks to an offseason strengthening program started in August and maintained this winter.

"I feel good with how my arm feels, and with my shoulder work in the offseason," Gordon said. "I could be in a game right now, but I thought extending me on the side and some extra batting practice would help me more."

Manuel plans for Gordon to see action in about eight to 10 games this spring, with the first one scheduled for Tuesday against the Pirates. It will be Gordon's third throwing session of the spring, following two simulated games. With an added emphasis for the end of March, the Phillies want their closer to ramp up slower. As he gets closer to April 2, he'll likely throw back-to-back days once or twice.

Gordon was open to the suggestion from pitching coach Rich Dubee. With more side sessions, Gordon believes he can get the extra time to get a better feel for his curveball.

With a better feel for his health, Gordon is confident that he'll avoid the disabled list, where he spent 3 1/2 weeks last season. The exercises and yoga have put him in a good place.

"I've done things for so long one way that in this day and age, you have to try something new," Gordon said. "I like it."

With Gordon drooling over the possibility of pitching deep into October -- and wanting the ball in every opportunity -- Manuel will have to figure out when to rest his closer. The manager would prefer not to use Gordon on three straight days, but he won't be able to rely on honesty.

"I told Charlie I'm going to prepare for 162 games," Gordon said. "I didn't drive over here every day [for offseason conditioning] to not be prepared."

What if Manuel asks Gordon how he feels on day three?

"I'm going to tell him I feel great," Gordon said, laughing. "If I feel great, I expect to pitch. I have to be smart and want to help this team in every situation. I'm not going to look forward to taking a day off. It will take four or five days for me to say I don't feel to0 good."

Quotable: "The only thing wrong with the game is I took Hamels out too early." -- Manuel, joking about removing Hamels after three innings in Sunday's 10-5 loss to the Yankees

Philling in: The Phillies didn't hit a homer on Sunday, their first Spring Training game without a home run. They have gone deep five times in five games, including Wednesday's exhibition game against Florida State University. ... Sunday's attendance (9,255) was the second-largest crowd in the history of Bright House Networks Field. The largest came on March 26, 2006, against Boston. ... Garry Maddox threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Sunday to Mike Schmidt.

Up next: Righties Freddy Garcia and Jon Lieber will each pitch for Philadelphia on Monday. Garcia is scheduled to pitch at the Carpenter Complex in a "B" game against the Blue Jays, and will be opposed by right-handers Dustin McGowan and Casey Janssen. Lieber will face Paul Wilson at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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