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

Phillie Phodder: Aaron Nola's health, Roman Quinn's status, closer job

Phillie Phodder: Aaron Nola's health, Roman Quinn's status, closer job

READING, Pa. — Perhaps the most important issue facing the Phillies as they get set to open spring training is the health of pitcher Aaron Nola.

It won’t be possible to fully gauge the right-hander’s condition until he starts firing pitches against hitters in a competitive situation in February and March.

But less than a month before camp opens, Nola is optimistic that the elbow problems that forced him to miss the final two months of the 2016 season are resolved.

“I feel like the injury is past me,” he said during a Phillies winter caravan stop sponsored by the Double A Reading Fightin Phils on Tuesday night. “I feel back to normal.

“My arm is all good. One-hundred percent.”

Nola, 23, did not pitch after July 28 last season after being diagnosed with a pair of injuries near his elbow — a sprained ulnar collateral ligament and a strained flexor tendon.

Nola and the team opted for a conservative treatment plan that included rest, rehab and a PRP injection. The pitcher spent much of the fall on a rehab program in Clearwater that included his throwing from a bullpen mound. He took a couple of months off and recently began throwing again near his home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“All through the rehab, I had no pain,” Nola said. “Probably in the middle of the rehab, I started feeling really good. Towards the end, I started upping the intensity a little bit. I knew after I took two months off I was going to be good. I started back up, throwing after Christmas and it felt really good when I cranked up. I’ve been throwing for a few weeks now. No pain, no hesitation. Not any of it.”

The Phillies selected Nola with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 draft with the hopes that he would be a foundation piece in the rotation for many years. Nola ascended to the majors in the summer of 2015 and recorded a 3.12 ERA in his first 25 big-league starts before hitting severe turbulence last summer. He had a 9.82 ERA in his final eight starts of 2016 before injuring his elbow during his final start.

Nola said he would report to Clearwater on Feb. 1. He does not expect to have any limitations in camp.

Manager Pete Mackanin is eager to see what Nola looks like in Clearwater.

“There's a part of me that’s concerned,” Mackanin said. “When guys don't have surgery and they mend with just rest, that makes me a little nervous. I don't want that to crop up again because then you lose a couple years instead of one year. But I defer to the medical people and believe in what they say and how he feels.”

Mackanin said he expected Nola to be in the five-man rotation along with Jeremy Hellickson, Jerad Eickhoff, Clay Buchholz and Vince Velasquez to open the season. Mackanin also mentioned Zach Eflin and others as being in the mix. The Phillies have some starting pitching depth and that’s a plus because pitchers' arms are fragile. Nola was the latest example of that last season. He said he’s healthy now, but he'll still be a center of attention in spring training.

More seasoning for Quinn
Mackanin acknowledged that the addition of veteran outfielder Michael Saunders probably means that Roman Quinn will open the season in Triple A.

“I don’t think it’s in our best interest or [Quinn’s] to be a part-time player at the big-league level, so I would think if things stay the way they are and if Saunders is on the team, I think it would behoove Quinn to play a full year of Triple A,” Mackanin said. “We have to find out if he can play 120 or 140 games, which he hasn’t done up to this point. We hope he can because, to me, he’s a potential game changer.”

Morgan to the bullpen?
Mackanin suggested that lefty Adam Morgan could be used as a reliever in camp. The Phillies have just one lefty reliever (Joely Rodriguez) on their 40-man roster. If Morgan pitches well out of the bullpen, he could be a candidate to make the club. Non-roster lefties Sean Burnett and Cesar Ramos could also be in the mix.

Another chance for Gomez
Jeanmar Gomez saved 37 games in 2016 before struggling down the stretch and losing the closer’s job. Hector Neris finished up in the role.

So how will competition for the job shake out in Clearwater?

“I wouldn’t say it’s wide open,” Mackanin said. “I’m going to give Gomez every opportunity to show that he’s the guy that pitched the first five months and not the guy that pitched in September.”

Source: Phillies have agreement with free-agent OF Michael Saunders

Source: Phillies have agreement with free-agent OF Michael Saunders

The Phillies are putting the finishing touches on a deal with outfielder Michael Saunders, according to a source.

Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported the deal was close early Monday afternoon.

When the medical reviews and other loose ends are complete, Saunders will end up with a one-year contract for 2017. It is believed that there will be an option for 2018.

According to FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, Saunders will make $9 million this season with the Phillies and the club option for 2018 will be worth $11 million with escalators potentially pushing it up to $14 million.

Saunders, 30, will give the Phils the left-handed bat they’ve been looking for in the outfield. Saunders is likely to play right field and his addition will likely push Roman Quinn back to Triple A, where he will get more seasoning.

Saunders is a veteran of eight seasons in the majors. He played in a career-high 140 games with Toronto in 2016 and made the American League All-Star team on the strength of a first half in which he hit .298 with 16 homers, 42 RBIs and a .923 OPS. He fell off in the second half and hit just .178 with 8 homers, 15 RBIs and a .638 OPS. Saunders finished the season at .253 with 24 HR, 57 RBIs and an .815 OPS.

With less than a month to go before spring training, the Phillies are likely done with their significant offseason moves. The offseason began with trades for reliever Pat Neshek and outfielder Howie Kendrick. Later in the winter, the club traded for starting pitcher Clay Buchholz and signed reliever Joaquin Benoit. Now Saunders is on his way.