CLEARWATER, Fla. – Cole Hamels began spring training with some bad news.
He ended it with some better news.
Hamels pitched two smooth innings in a minor-league game at Carpenter Complex on Thursday afternoon. It was his first competitive action of the spring. He kicked off camp by announcing that he would not be ready for opening day because his offseason conditioning program had been interrupted by a bout of shoulder tendinitis.
Hamels experienced some shoulder fatigue in early March, but is fully back on track now.
He proved that Thursday afternoon, throwing 30 pitches, 20 strikes, against a Pittsburgh Pirates’ minor-league club. Hamels allowed two infield hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out one.
“I felt great out there,” he said.
Hamels expects to continue to pitch in minor-league games in Florida every fifth day.
“I’m really pleased,” he said. “I feel like I can truly get spring training in now. I feel healthy now and I have the strength to go out and get my reps in and build my pitch count up.”
Starters typically make six starts in spring training. If Thursday’s minor-league outing was the first, Hamels projects to make five more before being ready to join the big club in late April.
Of course, every schedule is subject to change. Depending on how Hamels feels, he could progress faster or slower than expected.
He’s taking it one step at a time. This was a good one.
Hamels traveled back to Philadelphia with the team late Thursday afternoon and will be with the club opening day in Texas before returning to Clearwater for more work. He will also be in attendance for the home opener.
“I’m ready for my mini-spring training,” he said.
Hamels believes the Phillies can survive without him. He mentioned his fellow starting pitchers, including “Robbie Fausto” – his name for Roberto Hernandez – as reasons to have faith the Phillies “have a firm chance of keeping pace or being above .500.”