Hamels makes progress, ready to increase pace

Hamels makes progress, ready to increase pace
March 19, 2014, 11:00 am
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If all continues to go well, Cole Hamels could return to the Phillies by May 1. (AP)

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Another step for Cole Hamels ...

The left-hander threw between 40 and 45 pitches in a morning bullpen session at Bright House Field on Wednesday morning. The bullpen session was Hamels’ third since having to shut down with shoulder fatigue on March 1.

Hamels was pleased with how he felt and threw.

“It’s been coming quick, especially after I hit the wall (March 1),” he said. “That 10 days off really jump-started me. I feel like I’m 90 percent there with my total body strength.”

Hamels threw out of the windup for the first time this spring and mixed in cutters and changeups.

“It went really well,” he said. “I’m pleased that I’ve been able to build up my pitch count. I’m kind of getting anxious now that I’m feeling good to get the schedule set and get into a normal routine. We can get a little more aggressive.”

Hamels pronounced himself ready for the next step in his training regimen. He is tentatively scheduled to face hitters in live batting practice on Saturday. The schedule would call for him to do that twice before working his way into game competition. Once in game competition, Hamels would probably need about a month – the length of a Grapefruit League schedule -- to get ready for regular-season competition. The loose target date for his joining the Phillies’ rotation is still May 1 -- if all continues to go well. Once again, Hamels cautioned: He will not rush. He will remain methodical in his training so he can build up for the long haul.

“I’m looking forward to facing hitters. It’s a different intensity and a different stress,” he said. “It will be a good test for me.”

Hamels has been behind all spring because he wasn’t able to go through his normal offseason conditioning program after suffering from a bout of shoulder tendinitis in November.