Relatively Good News on Hamels
Cole Hamels has no structural damage to his left elbow.
That is good news.
But his chances of pitching Opening Day on April 5 remain very much up in the air.
Hamels had a MRI and dynamic ultrasound today in Philadelphia. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said there is some inflammation in the posterior lateral aspect of his elbow joint. Hamels received an anti-inflammatory injection and will not throw for two days. That means he will begin throwing again Thursday.
“You want him to be up there and pitching,” Amaro said. “Obviously, that’ll be the tell tale sign that Cole is back and pitching. But overall this is pretty good news. Until he’s up on the mound, pitching and competing, then we’ll know that Cole is pitching like Cole can. But overall we’re pretty pleased with the way things have worked out.
“This is pretty much the scenario we thought going into this. It is relatively good news. Anytime you have to have some type of procedure there is some concern.”
And Opening Day?
“We’ll start when he’s ready to start,” Amaro said. “He’ll start for the Phillies at the major league level when he’s ready to start. If it’s Opening Day, it’s Opening Day. If it’s some time beyond that then that’s when it will be. He’ll let us know what the pace is. We’ll monitor his progress. It’ll depend on how he continues to progress. For us, again, it’s the same old mantra: It’s not about Opening Day. It’s about 162 games, and hopefully beyond 162 games that we really have to worry about.”
Given the history with his elbow and where he is in his throwing program, is Opening Day even realistic?
“Certainly we have our concerns,” Phillies head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan said. “But I agree with Ruben. Our biggest thing is that it’s a long season. We need him for the majority of it. We’re really not that worried about Opening Day. We’ve got to have him for the whole season. Not just one day. Obviously, we’re not happy with the fact that his elbow hurts, but we’re trying to get him better.”
Hamels missed most of the 2004 season with Single-A Clearwater with elbow problems. Hamels pushed himself hard in a memorable spring training, but missed the first month of the season. He returned to make four starts, but missed the rest of the season when the problem returned.
“A similar condition, but that was a lot more significant,” Sheridan said. “He was much more tender and a lot less productive at that time than he is now. He was not able to throw at that point in time.”
So the fact that Hamels is scheduled to resume throwing Thursday is somewhat encouraging.
“He was actually progressing,” Amaro said. “His arm speed. He thought he was getting stronger every time out. He wasn’t going the other way. It wasn’t like he was deteriorating. He was still increasing his strength, but he still had persistent tightness.”
Charlie Manuel is not attending today’s game for personal matters. Manuel missed Saturday’s game for similar reasons.