Lefty skipped school to attend Phils' World Series parade

ST. LOUIS (AP) The timing is perfect for Tim Cooney's major league debut.

The St. Louis Cardinals lefty skipped high school to attend the Philadelphia Phillies' 2008 World Series parade, idolized Cole Hamels and recalls that Ryan Howard ''dropped bombs back in the day'' when he played his favorite team on video games. On Thursday, he'll be facing them.

The 24-year-old Cooney went to Malvern Prep in suburban Philadelphia and wore No. 35 at Wake Forest because that's Cole Hamels' number. He estimated ''80-85 percent'' of the student body ditched classes and took the train to watch the Phillies parade.

''I grew up a pretty big Phillies fan,'' Cooney said. ''I think that's kind of disintegrated over the years. I'm definitely all Cardinals now.''

Cooney, a first-round draft pick in 2012, was pulled from his scheduled start on Monday. He didn't find out until Tuesday that he'd be added to the 40-man roster and starting against Philadelphia in place of Adam Wainwright, due for season-ending surgery for a torn left Achilles.

''There aren't a ton of guys around from when I watched,'' Cooney said. ''I think it'll just be a fun little challenge. I'm just going to try and treat it like any other game.''

Manager Mike Matheny said he'd try to avoid information overload with Cooney, like he would with anyone preparing for his major league debut.

''Less is more,'' Matheny said. ''He doesn't need to break down the Phillies and understand the weakness of every one of their hitters.''

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