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Hamels finds inspiration in Bartolo's drive

Veteran lefty, 34, cites 44-year-old Colon's even-keeled nature
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Cole Hamels, who learned his craft from some savvy veterans like Jamie Moyer, Roy Halladay and others when Hamels was pitching in Philadelphia, has a new inspiration in Rangers camp.

Hamels can look up to right-hander Bartolo Colon, who is 10 years older and has eight more years in the big leagues.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Cole Hamels, who learned his craft from some savvy veterans like Jamie Moyer, Roy Halladay and others when Hamels was pitching in Philadelphia, has a new inspiration in Rangers camp.

Hamels can look up to right-hander Bartolo Colon, who is 10 years older and has eight more years in the big leagues.

"I think I'm more excited about the fact that I get to take batting practice with him," Hamels said.

Yeah, that would be worth watching between two pitchers who have hit one home run each in a combined 916 at-bats.

"I think that will be kind of the fun moment, but I think you really do have to respect the fact of what he's been able to do and accomplish in his career," Hamels said. "Obviously the age thing, it's not as easy to make it past 35, let alone get to 40, 45 or so, and everything he's been able to do. Every time I've watched it, it is, you just see the, he's got the focus but he also, he doesn't take himself too seriously.

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"I think that kind of helps in this game, just because you have good moments, bad moments, and he stays the same, and that's pretty impressive to just kind of be able to see."

Hamels turned 34 in December while Colon turned 34 on May 24, 2007. Since that date, Colon has made 233 starts and won 95 Major League games in a career that isn't over.

Colon has done it without having the most athletic body in the game. Hamels, on the other hand, is fanatical about his physical-conditioning program. They have both been successful Major League pitchers.

"I think it's you know your body," Hamels said. "Not everybody is going to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger out there."

Hamels, as he gets ready for a pivotal season for him, understands as he gets older that the mental aspects of the game grow in importance.

"Yeah, I think it is," Hamels said. "There's a physical side. We obviously have to be in physical shape to be able to get where we're at and you have to physically stay healthy once you get the opportunities. But I think now, you really now get to see the guys that are older, now you understand the mental side of the game."

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Hamels is entering the final season of a six-year contract that includes a club option for 2019. Hamels could have guaranteed the option by pitching a combined 400 innings in 2017-18, but he was limited to 148 innings last season because of a strained right oblique muscle. It will be up to the Rangers to make the call on 2019 based on this season.

"In my head, that option is already picked up," Hamels said. "It's a matter of doing what I am capable of doing."

The mental side of it is crucial, and that's why Hamels is inspired by Colon. Hamels may not pitch until he is 44, but he is nowhere close to thinking the end is near.

"Obviously, sports in general, baseball especially, is 90 percent mental," Hamels said. "And I think that's where you now can really see that. If you are strong mentally and you're prepared mentally, that sometimes can almost take you further than the physical aspect.

"That's probably what you really have to look at. Knowing that if you want to get that far, you still have to have the drive to want to be here, you have to have the willpower to get through the day-to-day routine and the grind of what baseball's considered."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Bartolo Colon, Cole Hamels