KANSAS CITY -- Cole Hamels pointed out that he grew up in San Diego and watched Tony Gwynn play his entire career for the Padres. He said he'd love to be able to do the same with the Phillies.

But the 28-year-old All-Star left-hander also made it clear that he was committed to testing the free-agent market at the end of the season. He said he could understand why he might be dealt before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. He also wouldn't rule out returning to the only organization he's ever known, even if that happens.

Hamels would have been happy to talk about the 83rd All-Star Game during Monday's Gatorade All-Star Workout Day media availability. He also had a pretty good idea that wasn't going to be what he was asked about. Not with all the swirling rumors and speculation about his future.


Flanked by teammates Jonathan Papelbon and Carlos Ruiz, he repeatedly volunteered the idea that he could be back in red pinstripes in 2013, no matter what happens in the next few weeks.

"Trusting your instincts and knowing that a person can always come back," Hamels said. "It isn't done often. But Cliff [Lee] showed that after being traded, multiple times during that year, he still came back to a city that he really wanted to be part of. And that's always a possibility."

The Phils traded Lee to the Mariners after the 2009 season and Seattle sent him to the Rangers at midseason. Lee and his agent, Darek Braunecker, took less money so the pitcher could come back to the Phils when he became a free agent.

Coincidentally, one podium to his right, Papelbon was talking about his decision to leave the Red Sox and sign with the Phillies as a free agent this year. And his view was the opposite of Hamels.

"They wanted to see if I could go out and test the market and maybe come back. I don't know if they would have, but I don't go back," Papelbon said. "I move forward. I go full steam ahead, man. I don't look back. I've got a car with no rear view mirrors. I'm like that guy on the commercial -- mayhem like me."

Three years ago, in Roy Halladay's last season with the Blue Jays, he was asked over and over at the All-Star Game if he thought he'd be traded; he was, but not until the offseason when he went to the Phillies. He said later that it made it difficult for him to enjoy his All-Star experience.

As a result, Hamels said, he discussed his situation with both Halladay and Lee.

"You have to just because you know it's going to arise," he said. "You just ask what type of experiences, what do you do? And they both said the same thing. You just have to pitch. You just have to play baseball. That's all we can really control.

"I'm not the one up in the front office. That's not what I signed up for. So I don't stress over that. Because it will. If you try to take that and lead it toward the game of baseball, you're going to implode. Nobody can really handle that. So what I've been trying to do, day in and day out, is just play baseball. I understand the nature of the business. I really do. It's only going to be speculated because of the situation that we're in. In this day and age, with guys getting traded a lot more, and free agency obviously coming up, I think it's just the business side."

He all but ruled out the possibility that he could re-up with the Phillies before the end of the season.

National League lineup
Player, Team Bats Pos.
1. Carlos Gonzalez, COL L DH
2. Melky Cabrera, SF S CF
3. Ryan Braun, MIL R LF
4. Joey Votto, CIN L 1B
5. Carlos Beltran, STL S RF
6. Buster Posey, SF R C
7. Pablo Sandoval, SF S 3B
8. Dan Uggla, ATL R 2B
9. Rafael Furcal, STL S SS
Matt Cain, SF R P
"It's a long time to play baseball," he said. "It's been seven years. Like I've said, I think every human being wants to know what his value is in whatever job they're in. And if you get to do it, I think it's a pretty cool experience. Because you can either be higher than what you thought, or lower. And I'm willing to accept either."

And, yet, Hamels repeatedly stressed how much he enjoys playing for the Phillies.

Asked if there might be an upside for the Phillies to move him for top prospects, he nodded, then added: "If they have to get something they have to get something, but I'll always give them the benefit of the doubt."

Later, he added: "The Phillies have done everything for me. I'm not just going to leave them high and dry. I wouldn't do that to any organization ever, let alone the Phillies. Because of how great [everyone] has been to me. I'll always think about that and have that in my thoughts."

Hamels made a point of mentioning that he doesn't believe manager Charlie Manuel is at fault for the Phils' first-half struggles. Papelbon, who said it would have been difficult for him to return to Boston after Red Sox manager Terry Francona was dismissed, agreed.

"Even when Philadelphia showed interest in me, I asked around about Charlie. Because I think a manager has a lot to do with the way a player can tick, the way a player can go," Philadelphia's closer said. "Charlie's a very good manager, similar to Tito. Charlie gets on you when he needs to get on you and lets you be who you need to be when you need to do that.

"He's been handling it well. It's tough for any manager. But I think he's done well and done everything he possibly can to help our team win. A manager can only do so much. The rest of it's up to the players."

The 83rd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. Pregame ceremonies begin at 7:30 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.

Fans will also have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the 2012 MLB.com All-Star Game MVP Vote during the All-Star Game on MLB.com.