The news is actually good on Phils Hamels

The news is actually good on Phils Hamels
August 23, 2011, 5:38 pm
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Charlie Manuel is not a doctor, but hes starting to play one on TV. Every day seems to bring another health update, or word of another injury, in Manuels daily pregame meeting with reporters.

Tuesdays list of ailments was so lengthy that Manuel had to wave in help from the bullpen and let general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. finish it off.

The short version:

Reliever Jose Contreras season is over. The righthander, limited to just 17 games by a sore elbow, is headed for exploratory surgery in California. Amaro said Contreras may have some loose fragments in his elbow, or possibly a problem with his flexor tendon. The Phillies are hoping for a quick and easy surgical fix that will allow Contreras to be ready for spring training.

Ryan Howard did not start Tuesday nights game because of what Amaro called bursitis in his left heelAchilles area.

Raul Ibanez missed his second straight game with a left groin problem that is similar to the sports hernia he had surgically repaired after the 2009 season. He had an injection of medication on Tuesday, and if it works as well as the one that Placido Polanco had for a similar problem, he could be back in the lineup sometime over the weekend.

Tuesdays injury update actually started early Tuesday afternoon moments before the earth shook when the Phillies media relations department sent out an email announcing the Cole Hamels had been placed on the disabled list with left shoulder inflammation.

The email was a little alarming at first because all signs pointed to Hamels being over the shoulder problem that has forced him to miss a couple of turns in the rotation. In fact, Hamels was scheduled to throw a bullpen session Tuesday afternoon and he had been tentatively penciled in to start Friday night.

Was there a setback?

The answer to that question came at about 3 p.m. after the earth stopped shaking when Hamels came out onto the field at Citizens Bank Park and started firing baseballs.

He was fine. Or, as pitching coach Rich Dubee said after the leftys bullpen session, Absolutely fabulous.

So why the trip to the DL?

Several reasons: Foremost, Dubee, who handles all matters pitching for Doctor McDreamy er, Manuel decided that re-inserting Hamels into the rotation on Friday would mean too many days between starts for the rest of the staff. Hamels had already been down for 11 days, so several more on a 15-day DL assignment wouldnt hurt. Besides, the transaction would allow the Phils to bring up an extra body for the banged-up bench. Utility man Pete Orr came up from Triple A.

So here is your Phillies pitching rotation for the coming days:

Wednesday afternoon vs. the Mets: Kyle Kendrick.

Thursday: Off day.

Friday night vs. the Marlins: Roy Oswalt.

Saturday night vs. the Marlins: Roy Halladay.

Sunday afternoon vs. the Marlins: Cliff Lee.

Hamels is scheduled to return to the rotation Monday night against the Reds in Cincinnati. Dubee is a sharpie. He knows how important it is for Hamels to come back and get on a good roll, so you can bet the venue Cincinnatis Great American Ball Park played into his plan. Hamels is 3-0 with a 1.67 ERA in four career starts in the ballpark on the banks of the Ohio River. In October, he pitched one of the best games of his life in the yard, shutting out the Reds on five hits in a no-walk, nine-K gem to sew up the National League Division Series.

Coles great, raved Dubee after Hamels bullpen session on Tuesday. Things really went well. He felt strong. He had no hesitancy. He had good command.Hamels was encouraged by his bullpen session.''It went very well," he said. "I was happy with it."Hamels participated in battingbunting practice with the other starters after his bullpen session. If he had any problems in the bullpen, he would have skipped that exercise and headed to the trainers room.

Monday nights start by Hamels will be the most important of the season for any of the Phils starting pitchers. Hamels has been crucial to this teams past success and he is crucial to its potential success the rest of the season. He needs to make a healthy showing.

With the best record in the majors, the Phils are on a collision course with their fifth straight NL East title and another berth in the October championship tournament. Injuries have been a major hurdle for the club, but all signs point to the team being healed up well enough before October to be at full strength for when it matters most.

Howards injury is a minor, nagging one. He would have played Tuesday night if this were October. Ibanez should be able to make it to the finish line, though John Mayberry Jr. another homer Tuesday night might steal his job by then. More will be known about Hamels condition on Monday, but initial impressions are good. Jimmy Rollins should be recovered from his groin injury by mid-September and Polanco has looked strong in two games back from the DL.

The one exception is Contreras, but the Phillies have survived for this long without him that you have to believe they can continue to as long as there are no more injuries.

E-mail Jim Salisbury at jsalisbury@comcastsportsnet.com.