• Rickt: I am the biggest Cal Jr fan around but one of my good friends played minor l...

Cole HamelsIt’s hard to know what to think of Phillies SP Cole Hamels. Last season, he gave us a taste of what we were told for years he was capable of, going 6-3 with a 2.60 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 691/3 innings over his final 11 starts.

Phillies fans heard stories about Hamels while he was toiling away in the minors. The scouts said that when he pitched, he was lights out. Problem was, he was injured more often than he was healthy.

And at least one of his injuries was entirely his fault. Hamels broke his hand in a bar fight. Not smart.

Then this winter, Hamels eloped with Survivor contestant and Playboy cover-model Heidi Strobel, further cementing his reputation as a party guy.

But now comes this story from the Philadelphia Inquirer, which makes me think that maybe Hamels isn’t the immature kid I assumed he was. Apparently, Hamels’ workout regime puts Roger Clemens’ famous program to shame.

From the Inky:

“I worked out with Cole a lot this winter in Philly,” said Phillies reliever Matt Smith. “I’d give him a hard time because I’d want to do cardio and lift weights, but he’d have to do his back program first. It would take more than an hour. Cole would say, ‘I have to get this done. I have to maintain.’ ”

Hamels does his back program seven days a week and he’s obsessive about it. It lasts about two hours, though he may shorten it during the season. In a typical day, Hamels does 500 crunches. (No wonder his body fat is a minuscule 6 percent.) When he’s done working on his back, he moves to the baseball portion of his day and finishes with an ice bath.

“I’ll look in the mirror before bed and ask myself, ‘Did I do all I can do?’ ” Hamels said. “I’ll do 500 crunches and wonder if it’s enough. I feel guilty if I don’t feel like I’ve done enough. I get paranoid.”

500 sit-ups a day? That’s probably a few more than David Wells does, don’t you think?

If this story is to be believed, Hamels is a man possessed. He is absolutely determined not to let his chronic back problems keep him off the mound. And while Hamels has shown a lack of judgement in the past, knowing that he’s working so hard now makes it hard not to root for him.

Now the Phillies just need to keep him out of bars. Maybe his Playmate wife can convince him to stay inside and watch a movie.

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