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Phillies' Hamels honored to start opener

CLEARWATER — That scruffy beard Cole Hamels has been sporting this spring will be gone by the time the Phillies open the regular season.

Hamels plans to look his best for his first career opening-day start.

"It's too itchy," he said with a laugh.

Hamels, 29, has a different look, but the lanky left-hander is the same dominant pitcher on the mound. When the Phillies face the Braves on April 1, he'll take the ball over Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.

"It's something I will cherish and to be able to get your team off to the right start, that's ultimately what it is, it sets the tone for the whole season," he said.

"You work toward it, you get in the best possible shape, prepare for the game and then you go out and execute. It's something I'll be able to remember for a really long time. At the same time, it's going to be a great season. I really look forward to the season."

Hamels already has a World Series ring, two postseason MVP trophies and a lucrative contract. He has gone from ace of a championship team to being the No. 4 starter in a star-filled rotation and now back to No. 1. Even before Halladay and Lee joined the Phillies, Brett Myers got the nod over Hamels for opening day. Now it's finally his chance.

"It's something you don't really want to get hyped up about it because there's so much work to be done in spring training," Hamels said. "They've let us get our work in without the distraction, which is a good thing. When they made the announcement, it's nice to be honored by the team, the organization and obviously the starting pitchers. Whenever you are able to lead them into battle, you want to do your best and set the tone for what the season is going to be like."

BROWN STILL HOT: Pasco High's Domonic Brown hit his fourth spring homer, a three-drive in a four-run fourth against RHP Hiroki Kuroda in a 7-0 win over the Yankees.

Yankees: Door is open

TAMPA — The Yankees hope Brennan Boesch makes the most of a big opportunity.

Boesch made his New York debut, starting in rightfield and going 0-for-3 in a split-squad loss to the Phillies.

New York agreed to a one-year contract on Friday with Boesch, who had been released by the Tigers on Friday.

"Unique circumstance where we can get a player who's played in the big leagues the last number of years," GM Brian Cashman said. "Comes in here and gets a chance to compete."

The Yankees will be without OF Curtis Granderson until at least May due to a broken right forearm.

Boesch, 27, hit .240 with 12 home runs and 54 RBIs in 132 games with Detroit last season.

"They did me a favor, and it goes without saying that I'm thankful for them to have done that," Boesch said of the Tigers. "I've been in Detroit since 2006, and it's all I know. But sometimes it comes to an end. I just couldn't be more excited. What a great organization to be in your second go around."

Jays: Role unknown

DUNEDIN — J.A. Happ still isn't sure where he stands.

The left-hander, who's not considered a contender for the Blue Jays' fifth starter role despite LHP Ricky Romero's struggles, allowed two runs on four hits in 32/3 innings while striking out six and walking none in a 3-1 loss to the Orioles.

He'll be either a reliever for Toronto or a starter at Triple A. It's not what he's looking for.

Happ, 30, will soon discuss his situation with GM Alex Anthopoulos.

"I'm trying to keep the positivity going and not cause a big deal here," Happ said. "That stuff will be handled in private, I hope."

ROSTER FILLED: Toronto rounded out its 40-man roster by claiming RH reliever Guillermo Moscoso off waivers from the Royals.

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Phillies' Hamels honored to start opener 03/16/13 [Last modified: Sunday, March 17, 2013 12:12am]

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