Just hope Cole Hamels minor spring injury goes better than that one time with Chase Utley

Just hope Cole Hamels minor spring injury goes better than that one time with Chase Utley

Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels announced he's likely to miss Opening Day after experiencing discomfort in his pitching shoulder this offseason. But, ‘No biggie!’ Hamels and the Phillies would have you believe.

Per CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury on Wednesday:

“I see myself pitching in April,” Hamels said. “I just wanted to be up front with everyone. ...  Don’t feel alarmed.”

Hamels and the Phillies would also have you believe Hamels didn't undergo an MRI three months ago, when Hamels said the discomfort first arose. This, for their prized, home-grown, left-handed twentysomething inked to the largest contract in Philly sports history: six years, $126 million. No MRI, perhaps modern medicine's most revealing diagnostic and one that, for a pro sports team, couldn't be easier to get.

You might recall this seemingly innocuous report about Chase Utley, and the discomfort he experienced before the 2011 season, dribbled out on Feb. 28. Headline: “Utley says knee tendinitis is ‘minor blip.’”

Some excerpts, highlights in bold:

Said Utley: “I hope it's just a minor blip. I think we have the right people checking it out. I think the work ethic is going to be there in terms of trying to improve it. So in that aspect I think it's all good."

Said Charlie Manuel: "I think that all that can be taken care of. ... I'm concerned about it, of course. But at the same time, I feel just like I did [Saturday] before I knew anything [about the MRI]. It'll take a few days for him to get well, but he will, and we'll have plenty of time to get him ready for the start of the season."

Utley, you may remember, wasn’t ready for the start of the season. Or the next.

This isn’t about challenging the Phillies, who are no less believable than anyone else in pro sports. NHL injury reports seem a binary proposition: “upper body injury” or “lower body injury.” (And, I suppose, a third: “Brayden Holtby’d.”) Patriots head coach Bill Belichick consistently draws ire in the NFL for his injury reports. Eagles head coach Chip Kelly just so happens to forget to consult team doctors... ever.

The point is, when it comes to player injuries, nobody is entirely forthcoming. Everybody is thoroughly vague, at best, utterly misleading, at worst. Which assumes teams, players and doctors know the severity of an injury when they choose to instinctively downplay it. They don't. Often times, they can't. (All of which apply to the patently bizarre Roy Halladay injury saga that spanned 18 months.)

So for you, the fan scrounging for hope and the clinging to the A.J. Burnett signing – not so coincidentally leaked moments after Hamels was “upfront” – don’t buy it. You don’t necessarily have to break the glass and assume the worst. Just know, crossing your fingers for the best is just that – crossing your fingers.

Especially after the last time a Phillies star came up with a "nontroversial" injury in spring training.

Follow Matt on Twitter: @MKH973 Catch him every Saturday from 12-2 on 97.3 ESPN-FM.

Carson Wentz falls far behind Elliott, Prescott in Rookie of Year odds

Carson Wentz falls far behind Elliott, Prescott in Rookie of Year odds

Carson Wentz's Rookie of the Year odds took a hit, the Eagles' Super Bowl odds shortened and the Vikings' lengthened after Sunday's 21-10 win.

The Eagles are 33/1 to win it all, a week after being listed by Bovada at 50/1. The Vikings, meanwhile, went from 7/1 to 9/1. They still have the third-shortest Super Bowl odds in the NFL and are two spots ahead of the Cowboys (14/1). 

Wentz, who had his worst statistical game against Minnesota, is now 9/1 to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, according to Bovada. Last Wednesday, he was 6/1.

Wentz trails Cowboys studs Ezekiel Elliott (2/5) and Dak Prescott (11/5) on that leaderboard.

As far as this week, Wentz is favored to throw for more yards than Prescott. Wentz is 5/7 to outgain Prescott through the air in Week 8, while Prescott is 1/1 to outgain Wentz.

Elliott's over/under rushing total against the Eagles is 99.5. He's rushed for 130-plus yards in each of his last four games, and the odds are 3/1 that he'll reach that number again this week. 

The Eagles have allowed just one 100-yard rusher this season, Washington's Matt Jones (16 for 135).

Elliott is also now on pace to break Eric Dickerson's rookie rushing record. Dickerson had 1,808 in 1983; Elliott is on pace for 1,875. Will Elliott break that 33-year-old mark? A "yes" bet pays 2/1; a "no" bet pays 1/3.

Dave Hakstol did Steve Mason a favor by challenging Sabres' 3rd goal

Dave Hakstol did Steve Mason a favor by challenging Sabres' 3rd goal

Many, though not all hockey games, have a tipping point or pivotal moment that factors into the outcome.
Sometimes it’s obvious what it was and when the moment occurred. Other times, it’s overshadowed by something else on the ice.
Ask the Flyers which moment would define their come-from-behind 4-3 shootout victory over Buffalo on Tuesday and the response will be virtually unanimous: when Dmitry Kulikov leveled Jakub Voracek with a high hit that made contact to the head in the third period.
Voracek was forced off the ice under the NHL’s concussion protocol.
That hit incensed the Flyers, who went on to score two power-play goals and tie the game, 3-3. The comeback was on.
Yet there was a less obvious but significant point that happened late in the second period, and it concerned goalie Steve Mason.
Matt Moulson had given Buffalo a 3-0 lead on Michal Neuvirth at 15:43, when Flyers coach Dave Hakstol elected to make a goalie switch.
Rather than call a simple timeout to buy Mason some warm-up time and allow his team to collect itself on the bench, Hakstol challenged the goal, claiming “goalie interference.”
Replays won’t show any direct interference on the shot itself. Neuvirth was speared several seconds before the play developed.
Hakstol knew the goal would likely not be overturned, but his strategy was to buy time for Mason and his team. By using a challenge, he knew the review process would take a lot longer than the 60-second timeout.
Either way, he was going to use his only timeout.
“You know what, I think we needed a timeout at that time, anyway,” Hakstol said coyly. “Pretty low probability of it being successful. Everything worked out well in the end.”
Mason appreciated what his coach did, too. Buying extra time for you?
“Yeah, probably,” Mason replied. “Regardless of the situation, you’re sitting on the bench, you know? You’re not really gauged as much as when you’re playing, obviously. So, you just try and ramp things up as quickly as possible.”
Mason had two saves in that shortened period, five in the third period and one in the overtime to register his second victory.
“There’s a never-quit attitude in this room,” he said. “We showed in Chicago — we were just talking about that. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to close that one out.
“But guys have a belief that you get one [moment] and it comes. [Travis Konecny] got us going with his first NHL goal, which is great. The guys really pushed to capitalize on their chances.” ​