03/24/09 7:05 PM ET
Hamels feels good after Minors start
Phillies ace lefty reports no pain in elbow; will start Sunday
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
Everything seemed OK with Phillies ace Cole Hamels after he threw 3 2/3 scoreless innings in a Minor League Spring Training game Tuesday afternoon at the Carpenter Complex. Hamels allowed one hit and one walk and struck out five.
Most importantly, he remains on schedule to pitch April 10 against the Rockies in Denver.
"I felt great," Hamels said.
It was the first time he had pitched since he received an anti-inflammatory injection into his left elbow March 17 in Philadelphia. Hamels had been bothered with inflammation for weeks, but he said the shot has knocked that out.
But the time Hamels has needed to recuperate from the inflammation and the shot has set him back in terms of building up arm strength.
That is why Hamels, who threw 48 pitches, would need a miracle to pitch Opening Night on April 5 at Citizens Bank Park. He is scheduled to pitch in a Grapefruit League game Sunday afternoon against the Red Sox at Bright House Field and April 4 against the Rays in an exhibition game at Citizens Bank Park. If Hamels continues to progress, he should be ready to pitch in the series opener against the Rockies.
That seems fine with everybody involved.
"If I'm able to jump in line with our four guys and be the fifth guy, the fourth, third, second -- I don't care," Hamels said. "It's just knowing that after the season starts, we're on that schedule. Knowing that I'm going to go out there every five days and my teammates know that I'm going to go and be healthy, that's really all that they can really ask for."
Brett Myers currently is on schedule to start Opening Night, although Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee isn't ready to announce that.
"That can change," Dubee said. "We still haven't solidified it."
But Dubee found reasons to be encouraged with Hamels, including seeing an increase in his velocity. Hamels' velocity was down earlier this spring. Phils general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. estimated Hamels' fastball Tuesday was in the 82- to 86-mph range. His fastball typically is 90-92.
"He's always been a slow starter," Dubee said. "Even before he got the injection, his velocity was starting to come up a little bit. This is a couple more notches up, which is good to see."
Hamels is not worried about his velocity. He is more worried about his health, and he said he feels like the inflammation is behind him and it isn't something he will fight throughout the season.
"It's a good feeling to be able to move it around, not feel it -- it's great," Hamels said of the elbow. "Just going with that, I obviously know I'm going to feel good [Wednesday], because everything worked out. It would stiffen up to where I would try to reach my shoulder and I couldn't get there. Now, I can do that and not feel any sort of inflammation, soreness or stiffness."
Hamels is confident he will wake up Wednesday morning without any pain.
And that is the next test.
"[Wednesday] will be the tell-tale story, how he responds after pitching today," Dubee said. "But today was definitely a positive."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.