That same left arm created some concern in the Phillies organization a few weeks ago.
After taking a little extra time to get ready because of minor elbow problems, Hamels is set to take his place in the rotation and make his season debut Friday when Philadelphia opens a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
Hamels had a strong season for the Phillies (1-2) in 2008, going 14-10 with a 3.09 ERA, but was at his best in the playoffs.
He led Philadelphia to its first championship since 1980 by going 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five postseason starts, getting named MVP of the World Series and NL championship series.
All the postseason pitching might have taken its toll on the left-hander’s arm, though. In the regular season and postseason combined, Hamels logged 262 1-3 innings - the most of any pitcher in baseball.
During spring training, Hamels experienced elbow tightness. A team physician found no damage in his sore left elbow, but because Hamels took some time off to get his arm checked out he would not be ready for opening day.
While he would have enjoyed the honor of an opening-day start, Hamels is content with the alternative of not missing a turn in the rotation.
“I think that’s the best because I don’t want to miss a start,” Hamels said before the start of the season. “If I’m able to jump in line with our four guys and be the fifth guy, the fourth, third, second - I don’t care. It’s just (about) knowing that after the season starts, we’re on that five-track schedule.
“Knowing that I’m going to go out there every five days and my teammates know that I’m going to go and be healthy, that’s really all that they can really ask for.”
Hamels will make his first career start against the Rockies - the only NL team other than the Phillies he hasn’t faced.
Philadelphia arrives in Colorado after a wild 12-11 win over Atlanta on Wednesday.
After scoring just one run in losing their first two games of the season, the Phillies were on the verge of being swept until rallying for eight runs in the seventh inning. Four of those runs scored on bases-loaded walks.
“This club, we never feel like we’re out of a game,” said Raul Ibanez, who hit a two-run homer. “We certainly felt we can come back if we put good at-bats together.”
The Phillies had no trouble putting together good at-bats against the Rockies last season, outscoring Colorado 50-21 in winning all five meetings. Chase Utley led the offense by going 9-for-22 (.409) with three home runs and 13 RBIs in those games.
Colorado is set for its home opener after scoring 20 runs in taking two of three in Arizona.
“I was just trying to drive the ball up the middle - awesome,” Fowler said.
Jason Marquis makes his Rockies debut Friday. He was acquired from the Chicago Cubs in January after going 11-9 with a 4.53 ERA in 29 games - 28 starts - for the NL Central Division champions last season.
The right-hander has had success pitching at Coors Field, going 3-0 with a 2.03 ERA in four career starts.
Marquis is 4-3 with a 4.58 ERA in 11 career starts against Philadelphia, and has done a solid job of shutting down Jimmy Rollins, limiting the 2007 NL MVP to 3-for-31 batting.