CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels said he feels healthy for the first time in a year, and that could cause headaches for hitters.
It could fatten his wallet, too.
Hamels had surgery in the offseason to remove loose bodies in his left elbow. He said the surgery was successful, and the improvement in his elbow has him throwing better changeups. The changeup has been Hamels' moneymaker since high school, so a better one could make him even tougher to hit in 2012.
"I wasn't able to turn it over as much and get the drop or the fade as much as I'm normally accustomed to [last season]," Hamels said. "I was able to get away with it, because of the difference in speed and it still did move where I got a lot more ground balls than swings and misses. I'm just happy it does have the type of moment it does right now, because that's what I'm used to, and I like that feeling."
Hamels not only battled elbow issues last season, but a sports hernia and poison oak. If he stays healthy and gets some run support, Hamels could be in line for his biggest season yet.
Hamels, who can potentially become a free agent after the season, seems to be in line for a contract worth more than $100 million. His agent John Boggs has been in town this week, but a deal is not close or expected to be finalized before the end of Spring Training, if an agreement can be reached at all.
"I'm not the type of guy that needs to put up parameters and barriers," Hamels said on a timetable to reach an agreement. "It's a situation where I think I'm more focused on being able to go out and pitch. I think that's what I know the team wants me to do. Our ultimate goal is to win a World Series, not play for a contract."