CLEARWATER, Fla. – Cole Hamels is moving in the right direction in his recovery from shoulder tendinitis/fatigue.
But he is moving very slowly.
Two days after a 20-pitch bullpen session – his first after a week-long shutdown – Hamels reported feeling “really good,” on Friday morning.
The 30-year-old left-hander went on to say that he would throw his next bullpen session on Sunday. That’s a three-day interval between bullpen sessions -- not exactly a land-speed record.
“Everything’s going really well right now, and it is,” Hamels said at Phillies camp Friday. “It’s just a difficult part of trying to push it and not push too hard, but at the same time finding that middle ground where the intensity can be there and you’re putting yourself in a good position to keep pace so that you can keep the schedule.”
Including warm-ups, Hamels could approach 40 pitches in Sunday’s workout. He is not throwing full bore.
“I’m increasing the reps and obviously the intensity,” Hamels said. “It’s slowly but surely, maybe trying to let a few pitches go near the end, but really trying to stay around 60 to 65 percent throwing, and then maybe going 70-75 percent on the last couple.
“Hopefully in a couple bullpens I’ll be at 75 percent and I can let it go 80. And then you get in games, you’re more 80 to 90 percent. And then during the season it’s all gears going and you’re able to reach that 100 percent mark.”
There is no timetable for Hamels’ being ready for regular-season game action. This much is sure: He will open the season on the disabled list. In Hamels’ mind, he is in the first week of spring training, and he’s clearly committed to taking his time and methodically building arm strength. Phillies officials are holding out hope he could pitch sometime in April, but May 1 might be a more realistic target.
And that’s provided everything continues to go smoothly and there are no more setbacks like last week’s when shoulder fatigue forced Hamels to slow down his program.
“I’m just trying to be as smart as I possibly can so when I am able to pitch I’m going to be competitive and effective and not cost us games or have to go on the DL because things aren’t working out,” Hamels said. “I want to be there and I want to be there for the remainder of the season.”