Troubled by injuries throughout his short career, Cole Hamels made a rehab start with Low Class A Lakewood BlueClaws after hearing a pop in his left arm while throwing in between starts with Philadelphia.
Hamels, 22, was put on the 15-Day DL on May 19 after the incident.
“You have to be up front with the team because if you let something like that continue, instead of missing three starts, which I’m doing, you might miss the whole rest of the season, and I don’t want that to happen,” Hamels said. “What it really comes down to is August, September, and October. If you can pitch then and you can pitch strong and effectively, that’s all that really matters and that’s all that everyone remembers too.”
The Phillies have been careful with their talented lefty due to his history of injuries.
“We’re cautious with all of our players no matter who it is,” Phillies General Manager Pat Gillick said. “We just want to make sure that they are sound and healthy when they go out there.”
In his rehab start, Hamels held the Hickory Crawdads to one run through 5.2 innings of work, while recording three strikeouts, two walks, and allowing three hits.
“It was just like any other day,” Hamels said. “I just went out there to compete and play baseball, trying to help Lakewood win. Everything went great. I felt healthy and I’m just looking forward to getting back on the mound and helping out with Philadelphia.”
The Phillies put Hamels on a 55 pitch count. Of the 55 pitches, 40 were for strikes.
“I knew I was only going to be throwing 55 pitches, so I just went out there, threw 55 pitches, and tried executing on every single one of them,” Hamels said. “Obviously I wanted to go longer than that because of my competitiveness.”
“I just need to figure out some things mechanically and become more effective on getting that first pitch strike.”
Hamels threw his fastball 88-92 mph, touching 94 mph a few times. His curveball and changeup were each very effective.
“He hadn’t pitched in two weeks, and he held his velocity pretty good,” Gillick said. “What impressed me is the fact he looked very natural out there. Usually sometimes with an injury, you’re a little bit hesitant and reluctant to get back with it, but he didn’t have any reluctance whatsoever and he looked just like he pitched last time in Milwaukee; free, easy, and very confident.”
“He looked good. He had a very natural delivery. He didn’t do anything wrong mechanically and that’s what you’re looking for, something natural.”
Hamels has been on fire this season and will be soon returning to the Phillies’ rotation.
The southpaw began the season with High Class A Clearwater, where he made four starts and went 1-1, 1.77 with a 29-9 K-BB ratio in 20.1 innings. Hamels was then promoted to Triple A Scranton, where he went 2-0, 0.39 with a 36-1 K-BB ratio in 23 innings.
His strong performance earned him a call-up to the Phillies. On May 12, he made his major league debut at Cincinnati, pitching five shutout innings with seven strikeouts while giving up just one hit and walking five, receiving a no-decision. On May 18, he pitched against Milwaukee and threw 6.1 innings with five strikeouts and four walks, giving up four runs on five hits and four walks.
“I leave tomorrow morning (June 2) to go to Los Angeles, then they will decide what they want to do with me,” Hamels said.
“I think that he’s satisfied with himself that he healthy, and we feel satisfied that he’s healthy so we’ll go from there,” Gillick said. “He comes off the disabled list on Saturday and we will work him back into the rotation. He will probably be back in it sometime next week.”
“He looks like he is on the road back, we’ll get him back in the rotation and it should make us better.”