CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) -- Philadelphia left-hander Cole Hamels felt encouraged Wednesday following his first bullpen session since March 1.
The left-hander entered spring training behind other Phillies pitchers after biceps tendinitis in November. Since he's roughly a month behind the other members of the Phillies staff, Hamels is likely to begin the season on the disabled list and could miss the majority of April.
''It feels really good,'' Hamels said. ''That past couple of days, it's felt really great.''
Hamels had been scheduled to throw batting practice last Thursday but halted his throwing program because of fatigue.
''I want to be out there competing because this is what I love to do and I love to be the best at what I do,'' Hamels said. ''I don't want to be here and be some sort of charity case. I'm here to win and help this team win and I want to pitch for a really long time.''
Hamels threw 20-30 pitches off a bullpen mound.
''He threw free and easy,'' pitching coach Bob McClure said. ''No pain.''
Hamels could face hitters within a week and possibly get into exhibition games during the final two weeks of spring training.
The 30-year-old, the 2008 World Series MVP, was 8-14 with a 3.60 ERA in 33 starts last year. Philadelphia's rotation at the start of the season is likely to include Cliff Lee, Kyle Kendrick, free-agent additions A.J. Burnett and Roberto Hernandez.
Jeff Manship and David Buchanan are among the contenders for the No. 5 slot.
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