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.

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets crush Islanders, 7-0

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets crush Islanders, 7-0

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Unlike some other NHL teams coming off their bye week, there wasn't a spot of rust on the sleek Columbus Blue Jackets.

In their first game following a five-day break, the high-energy Blue Jackets blew out the New York Islanders 7-0 Saturday as backup goalie Joonas Korpisalo earned his first career shutout.

Josh Anderson and Nick Foligno each scored twice, and David Savard had a goal and three assists. Boone Jenner and Jack Johnson also scored to help the Blue Jackets end New York's three-game winning streak (see full recap).

Zibanejad scores in OT to help Rangers beat Devils again
NEWARK, N.J. -- The New York Rangers are finding ways to win, and the New Jersey Devils just aren't.

Moments after goaltender Antti Raanta stopped Kyle Palmieri on a breakaway, Mika Zibanejad scored 1:16 into overtime and the Rangers rallied to beat the Devils 4-3 on Saturday.

"I had to redeem myself after that letdown on the breakaway the other way," said Zibanejad, whose mistake gave Palmieri a chance to complete a hat trick. "Rants came up big and it's nice to see that puck cross the goal line once again and win the game."

The goal was Zibanejad's first in 16 games and it gave the Rangers their ninth win in 11 games (9-1-1). Struggling New Jersey got its fourth loss in five games (1-3-1) (see full recap).

Shaw's OT goal gives Canadiens 14th straight win over the Leafs
TORONTO -- Andrew Shaw scored 1:06 into overtime and the Montreal Canadiens beat Toronto 3-2 on Saturday night for their 14th consecutive victory over the Maple Leafs.

Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk had the other goals for the Canadiens, who increased their Atlantic Division lead to four points over Ottawa and five on Toronto. They are 3-7-1 in the last 11 games and 2-2-0 under new coach Claude Julien.

Carey Price stopped 32 shots for Montreal, including a breakaway by Auston Matthews in overtime. The 19-year-old Matthews scored twice to reach 30 goals in his rookie season, and Frederik Andersen was sharp with 25 saves for Toronto (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Noel scores 9 points, grab 10 boards in Mavs debut

Best of NBA: Noel scores 9 points, grab 10 boards in Mavs debut

DALLAS -- Harrison Barnes scored 19 points and Dirk Nowitzki had 18 points and nine rebounds as the Dallas Mavericks ended a three-game losing streak by beating the New Orleans Pelicans 96-83 on Saturday night.

The Pelicans fell to 0-2 since trading for DeMarcus Cousins and pairing him with Anthony Davis.

Davis had 39 points and 14 rebounds but scored only 12 in the second half. Cousins finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds.

Seth Curry scored 10 of his 13 in the fourth quarter to help Dallas pull away. His 3-pointer with 4:49 to play gave the Mavericks an 84-72 lead, and the Pelicans never got closer than six after that (see full recap).

Harden leads Rockets past Timberwolves in 142-130 shootout
HOUSTON -- James Harden had 24 points and 10 assists to lead the Houston Rockets to a 142-130 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves as both teams set season scoring highs in a Saturday night shootout.

Houston won for the sixth time in seven games, handing the Timberwolves their first road loss in more than three weeks.

Minnesota committed a season-high 25 turnovers that led to 38 points for the Rockets.

Playing against Houston's guard-heavy rotation, Minnesota went inside all night and outscored the Rockets 68-44 in the paint. Karl-Anthony Towns had 37 points and 22 rebounds, and Andrew Wiggins added 30 points (see full recap).

Bulls benefit as James sits with strep, beat Cavs 117-99
CLEVELAND -- Dwyane Wade scored 20 points and Jimmy Butler recorded a triple-double, leading the Chicago Bulls to a 117-99 victory Saturday night over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who played without LeBron James.

James missed the game with strep throat, and coach Tyronn Lue said he wasn't sure how long the Cavaliers would be without the four-time MVP. Cleveland struggled as it often does without its star - they are 4-19 without him since he returned to Cleveland in 2014, including 0-4 this season.

Chicago has won all three games against Cleveland this season. It took advantage of James' absence to win its fourth straight overall (see full recap).

George ejected, Heat stay hot with 113-95 win over Pacers
MIAMI -- Paul George had another frustrating night in Miami.

Hassan Whiteside scored 22 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, Dion Waiters added 22 points and the red-hot Miami Heat pulled away late to beat the Indiana Pacers 113-95 on Saturday night. Miami outscored Indiana 42-22 in the final 16 minutes, all with George watching from the Pacers' locker room after an ejection.

"It felt like a playoff-type game," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said (see full recap).