Cole Hamels threw his first bullpen session of the spring on Wednesday. (USA Today Images)
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- All good on the Cole Hamels front.
Hamels threw 33 pitches in his first bullpen session of the spring at Phillies camp on Wednesday. He was pleased with the outcome.
“Everything felt really good,” he said. “I’m pain-free. I feel like I’m in a really good position to progress.”
Hamels experienced shoulder tendinitis during his offseason throwing program in November and had to shut down his workouts for several weeks. That has put him about two weeks behind the rest of the pitching staff.
The lefty will throw two more bullpen sessions in the coming days and graduate to throwing live batting practice next week. Hamels believes he could be pitching in a Grapefruit League game in about two weeks.
“Of course,” he said.
“I’m just a little behind these guys, but I feel I’m ready to make some good strides. And once I get in a game I’ll really know where I’m at.”
If all continues to go well, Hamels could be ready for regular-season games in the second week of April. Being ready for opening day remains out of the question because the Phillies are exercising caution with the Hamels.
“He could probably do it because of the way he’s throwing now, but let’s not push it,” pitching coach Bob McClure said.
Because of off days, it’s possible the Phillies could get through the first two weeks of the season with four starters (see story). That would allow the Phillies to be patient with Hamels.
McClure liked what he saw of Hamels off the mound.
“He was very good,” McClure said. “He threw all his pitches and looked very free and easy. He was down in the zone. His arm action was good. Everything was full extension. The health looks great.
“I could never tell there was anything wrong. I would say he looks 100 percent healthy. He looks like anyone else on the first day of camp. It looks good, really good.”