CLEARWATER, Fla. — Philadelphia pitcher Cole Hamels won’t throw off a mound for at least another week after feeling fatigue from his latest throwing session.
The Phillies’ opening-day starter in 2013, Hamels entered spring training behind schedule following biceps tendinitis in November. Hamels said after last Saturday’s mound session, his third of spring training, he doesn’t feel 100 percent.
“I believe I threw 35 pitches,” the 30-year-old left-hander said. “To my body it felt like a thousand.”
Hamels was scheduled to face hitters for the first time in a bullpen session Thursday but that was canceled. Asked whether he believed he could join the Phillies’ rotation in April, Hamels was noncommittal.
“I think that’s the last thing I’m going to think about,” he said. “Ultimately I just want to get back out and get on the mound and see how I’m going to fare there.”
Hamels said he isn’t scheduled for an MRI. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said the team doesn’t have any concerns over the structural integrity of Hamels’ arm.
Amaro didn’t appear to be overly worried.
“The only thing that’s a concern for me is the fact that we have to push him back,” Amaro said. “The fact that he’s throwing, not having any pain or anything like that, this is part of the rehab. Things happen. It doesn’t always go in a straight line. It’s really more a matter of fatigue. We don’t have any issues about his health, as far as his structure or anything like that. We just have to be patient.”
Hamels was 8-14 with a 3.60 ERA in 33 starts last season. A three-time All-Star and former World Series MVP, Hamels is entering the second season of a $144 million, six-year contract, the largest in Phillies history.
Three weeks ago, on the eve of the first workout for pitchers and catchers in Clearwater, Hamels estimated he was “eight to 10 days” behind the rest of the pitchers, as he was still in he early stages of building his strength and stamina back following his arm issues in November.
Thursday, Amaro said there was another issue at play that slowed Hamels’ offseason program: Hamels was sick over the winter and lost some weight.
“The biggest issue that we had that we probably didn’t realize before, was how much time he had to lose and what his body went through when he got sick,” Amaro said. “It was two weeks down, which is a lot for someone who is sick. So that pushed him back, and obviously did a number on his body. He lost, I think, maybe 10 or 15 pounds, so he’s still gaining strength and all that other stuff.”
Without Hamels, the Phillies likely will open the season with a rotation that includes former Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee, right-hander Kyle Kendrick and free agent additions A.J. Burnett and Roberto Hernandez.
Several players are in contention to become the fifth starter.
“Obviously, it’s a bummer for the rotation, Cole is one of the best in the game,” Kendrick said. “We’re going to have to step up. Guys are going to have to step up and pick him up. I think we have the guys to do that. Hopefully, it’s not too long. … We need him back as soon as possible.”