Hamels OK after offseason shoulder issue

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Hamels OK after offseason shoulder issue

Ruben Amaro Jr. insists that its nothing to be concerned about, but any time someone hears that Cole Hamels experienced shoulder soreness, well, theres going to be concern.

Thats just the way it is with pitching arms. Especially ones critical to a teams success.

Id be concerned if this was an issue, but we dont view this as an issue at all, Amaro said Thursday.

CSNPhilly.com learned that Hamels encountered an issue during his offseason throwing program.

Amaro confirmed that the issue arose early in the offseason and the GM disclosed that Hamels actually had some shoulder soreness at the end of the season. Amaro said that shoulder soreness was not uncommon.

According to Amaro, Hamels got aggressive with his throwing program sometime in October. The pitcher, according to Amaro, had some soreness and contacted head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan.

We shut him down for a couple of weeks, but hes fine now, Amaro said. He was being proactive more than anything else, which is good. We backed him off and slowed him down, but hes back throwing now and doing fine. Hes had no complaints.

Amaro wasnt certain where Hamels had been throwing when the pitcher felt the soreness. Hamels throws throughout the winter, wherever he is at the time. Amaro said the issue was not serious enough that Hamels needed to be examined. The GM would not say whether Hamels received any treatment other than rest.

Hamels, who turned 29 in December, received a thorough medical check before signing a six-year, 144 million contract, the largest in Philadelphia sports history, in July. That checkup included an MRI. The lefthander has had some minor arm troubles, including a two-week stint on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation in August 2011. He had surgery to remove a bone chip from his elbow after that season. These problems were considered minor (and Hamels proved that with a strong season in 2012). If they had been more serious, the club likely would not have been willing to give Hamels his historic contract in July.

The Phillies, who saw their string of five straight NL East titles end in 2012, hope to return to the playoffs in 2013. Good health is crucial to their chances. Foundation blocks such as Roy Halladay, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard all missed significant time with injuries in 2012. They must be healthy for the Phils to contend. Hamels, coming off 17 wins and 216 strikeouts (both career highs) in 215 13 innings in 2012 is also vital to the teams fortunes. He could end up making his first opening-day start in 2013. He was supposed to be the teams opening-day starter in 2009 but elbow tightness scuttled that plan.

Amaro continues to get reports on Halladays workouts in Clearwater. The righthander spent seven weeks on the DL with shoulder issues in 2012. He has made some mechanical adjustments to ease the burden on his shoulder.

Hes doing real well, Amaro said. Pitching coach Rich Dubee saw him throw. He feels good. His mechanics look good. Everything is positive. Hes getting loose faster than in the past.

Halladay will start throwing off a mound later this month and he, like Hamels, will be ready for Day 1 of spring training.

Well know more when hes on the mound and firing, but right now all indications are good, Amaro said of Halladay.

Utley, whose sore knees prevented him from playing a game in the last two spring trainings, continues to take ground balls several times a week in California. Sheridan will evaluate his progress in person next week.

Chase is strong and good, Amaro said. He should be 100 percent going into camp.

Howard has shown no deficiencies in his Florida workouts, according to Amaro.

Camp opens Feb. 12. Amaro said Jimmy Rollins is already hitting in Clearwater.

Knock on wood, at least from the medical reports, everything is pretty positive, Amaro said. What happens coming into camp, well see.

Im looking forward to getting rolling, Amaro added. Its been a longer offseason than were used to having. Im curious to see how people look, how healthy people are. I know our veterans who have been there are not happy with how things turned out and hopefully that translates into the urgency I like to see.

And Im eager to see our young guys get an opportunity to steal some jobs. They should understand the urgency too. Were playing to win. Its not just about getting jobs. We want to see the urgency to win out of them, too. If we dont, they wont be on the club.

The Phillies outfield picture remains uncertain. Ben Revere is set in centerfield. Darin Ruf, John Mayberry Jr., Domonic Brown and Laynce Nix will vie for jobs, possibly in platoons, at the corner spots as Amaro continues to look for upgrades. That never stops.

Its very possible we go to camp with what weve got, but were still looking, and we wont stop looking in spring training. Its our job, Amaro said.

E-mail Jim Salisbury at jsalisbury@comcastsportsnet.com

Phillies look to 'keep grinding' after latest rough loss to Rockies

Phillies look to 'keep grinding' after latest rough loss to Rockies

BOX SCORE

The Phillies have scored just two runs in 13 innings against a pair of rookie starting pitchers and the eventual outcome has been two losses to the Colorado Rockies the last couple of nights. The latest was an 8-2 setback on Tuesday night (see Instant Replay). That followed an 8-1 loss on Monday night.

What's happening right now at Citizens Bank Park is ugly. The Phillies are in the midst of a freefall that has seen them lose 19 of their last 23 games. They have been outscored 134-91 over that span.

Now, before we completely lose perspective here, the Phillies remain a building team and they were not expected to contend this season. But they weren't supposed to be this bad, either, and right now they are embarrassingly bad at 15-28.

John Middleton, the team's fiery managing partner, watched several innings of Tuesday night's debacle sitting beside Andy MacPhail in the club president's box. Oh, to have been a fly on that wall. Middleton is committed to a patient rebuild from the ground up, but he's also a man who has made it no secret that he likes to win a little. The show that the Phillies are putting on out on the field these days can't sit well with him. Surely it's not sitting well with the fans. Tuesday night's attendance was just 17,109, the lowest of the season, and many in that group headed home after Gerardo Parra's sixth-inning homer gave the Rockies an 8-1 lead.

"We're just in a big rut right now," manager Pete Mackanin said.

Shortstop Freddy Galvis added that he couldn't remember going through anything this bad.

"We have to keep grinding," he said. "Keep grinding, man. It's pretty tough right now."

Tuesday night's loss offered a tale of two young pitchers. Zach Eflin, the Phillies' 23-year-old right-hander and a veteran of just 18 big-league starts, was hit hard. Meanwhile, German Marquez, the Rockies' 22-year-old rookie, was impressive. He held the Phillies to one run over six innings. He twice faced bases-loaded jams and gave up just one run when he walked a batter.

On Monday night, the Phils were held to one run over seven innings by another rookie, Jeff Hoffman.

Rookie pitchers are often good medicine for struggling teams.

"That's the way I look at it," Mackanin said. "Unfortunately it hasn't happened.

"I know we're better than this. I think the team knows they're better than this. I can't fault the hustle. Someone might say there's no energy. Well, when you don't get any hits, there's no energy."

The Phillies have scored just three runs in the last three games.

The scarcity of runs gives the pitching very little room for error. But in this game, Eflin simply did not keep it close. He gave up 10 hits and eight runs over six innings of work. Phillies killer Charlie Blackmon torched Eflin for a pair of two-run homers and Parra got him for a solo shot.

"A poor outing," Mackanin said of Eflin's work. "He couldn't locate. The ball was up in the zone. He's struggling to keep the ball down.

"When he struck out Blackmon in the first inning, it was a two-seamer with great movement, I thought we're in for a good outing here. But then he couldn't keep the ball down. You have to pitch down or you're going to get hurt."

Eflin has given up 21 hits and 15 runs in his last two starts.

"It's frustrating, but it happens. It's baseball," he said. "There are going to be a lot of times in my career where I give up a lot of hits and a lot of runs. But I'm really not worried about it right now. I know that I'm going to continue to work hard and go out every fifth day and, you know, put up a line of winning baseball."

Blackmon has seven home runs in his last five games at Citizens Bank Park. He has three multi-homer games in Philadelphia.

"He seems to like hitting here," Eflin said. "But I just have to execute pitches. There's no excuse. I just have to be on top of my game."

Right now, the Phillies are at the bottom of their game.

"We have to stay together as a team and keep fighting, try to get out of what's happening right now," Galvis said. "It's a really tough situation, but we have keep playing hard."

Best of MLB: Michael Conforto powers Mets to win over Padres

Best of MLB: Michael Conforto powers Mets to win over Padres

NEW YORK -- Michael Conforto homered twice and had a career-high four RBIs, including three on two hits during the Mets' biggest first inning in 13 years, and Matt Harvey won his first home start since getting suspended as New York routed the San Diego Padres 9-3 on Tuesday night.

Lucas Duda broke out of a slump with three hits and three RBIs, and manager Terry Collins earned his 500th victory with the Mets. His team got a leadoff homer and a two-run single from Conforto in a seven-run first against Jhoulys Chacin.

Given a huge early cushion, Harvey (3-3) labored through five innings to win for the first time since April 11 at Philadelphia. The embattled former ace was 0-3 in his previous six starts and got banned three days by the Mets after skipping a home game this month following a late night on the town.

Chacin (4-4) got only two outs in the shortest and worst of his 145 career starts over nine major league seasons. He gave up seven runs and eight hits (see full recap).

Rendon, Nationals clobber Mariners
WASHINGTON -- Anthony Rendon homered twice and drove in five runs, Joe Ross returned from the minors to allow one run over a career high-tying eight innings, and the Washington Nationals routed the Seattle Mariners 10-1 on Tuesday night.

Bryce Harper added his 14th homer and Jayson Werth hit his seventh off Chris Bergman (1-2), who allowed all of the Nationals' runs and 14 of their 15 hits.

Rendon doubled before his second homer -- and seventh of the season -- completed an eight-run fourth inning. Ryan Zimmerman also had three hits.

Mike Zunino homered off Ross (2-0) in his return from his own minor league stint. Robinson Cano was hitless in his first game back from the disabled list following a thigh injury as Seattle dropped its fourth straight (see full recap).

Lester pitches 4-hitter in Cubs’ win
CHICAGO -- Jon Lester pitched a four-hitter for Chicago's first complete game of the season, and the Cubs beat Johnny Cueto and the San Francisco Giants 4-1 on Tuesday night in a rainy rematch of last year's playoff opener.

Anthony Rizzo hit a two-run homer as Chicago improved to 5-2 on its nine-game home stand. Kyle Schwarber and Jason Heyward also connected, helping the Cubs bounce back from their 6-4 loss to the Giants on Monday night.

Lester and Cueto hooked up in a memorable pitchers' duel in Game 1 of the NL Division Series last October, with Chicago winning 1-0 on Javier Baez's eighth-inning homer. The Cubs eliminated the Giants in four games and went on to their first World Series title in 108 years.

Lester (3-2) was sharp once again in the low-profile reunion. Cueto (4-4) was just OK, striking out eight in six innings, but surrendering each of Chicago's three homers (see full recap).