Amaro: Cole Hamels could pitch in April
Including playoff games, Cole Hamels has averaged 226 innings pitched the last six seasons. (USA Today Images)
The Phillies will be in survival mode until Cole Hamels returns. The back end of the rotation is unsettled, and the outlook didn't improve on Friday when Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez allowed four runs and six baserunners in one inning.
But how much time will Hamels actually miss? He won't resume throwing for about a week, and then he must restart his program to build strength for the season. Does that mean he's due back in late April? Mid May? Later than that?
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. addressed his high-priced pitcher's return Friday morning on 94.1 WIP.
"I think he'll be pitching sometime hopefully in April, and he'll be pitching from that point on until hopefully late into October and November," Amaro said.
Encouraging, even if Amaro did then caution against putting a definitive timetable on Hamels' return.
"We can't put any timeline on him because when you're in rehab, things don't go in a straight line all the time."
As for the much-debated topic of why Hamels wasn't given an MRI, Amaro said Hamels isn't in pain and the team's doctors have deemed it unneccessary.
"If we had an inkling on our $25 million pitcher, do you not think that we would put him under a tube if we felt it was absolutely necessary to do it? So the fact that we're not doing it, what does that tell you?"
The Phils better hope Hamels returns sometime in April. They simply don't have enough in the back end of the rotation to survive without him for an extended period of time. Kyle Kendrick has a 4.38 career ERA, Roberto Hernandez has a 5.03 ERA the last six seasons, and the four men battling for the fifth starter's job are either inexperienced or owners of a career ERA around 6.00.