Cole Hamels on setback: ‘My body is telling me to start over’

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Cole Hamels’ scheduled throwing session on Thursday was canceled because of what he described as a “fatigued arm.” Hamels was supposed to pitch live batting practice.

“My body is telling me, 'Hey, you’ve got to take a step back and start over,” the Phillies’ 30-year-old left-hander, who is recovering from a bout of shoulder tendinitis, explained.

Because of Thursday’s setback, there now appears little chance Hamels will be ready to return to the Phillies' starting rotation during the first month of the regular season.

"April is the last thing I want to think about right now," Hamels said. "I would say, right now, we’re just taking it day by day. Ultimately I just want to get back out and get on the mound and see how I’m going to fare there."

Hamels said there is no pain in his arm.

“I think the best way to explain it is dead arm or frozen arm," he explained. “It’s really tired.

“I think any time you use and abuse your arm you’re going to get inflammation. But I wouldn’t say it’s painful.

“I think ultimately when people think shoulder and not being able to throw a baseball, they think injuries, tears, the pain indication. It’s not that. It’s really tired and it was kind of more difficult to go through the throwing motion, let alone try to throw something very competitive.

“The shoulder really doesn’t want to throw the ball the way I want to against hitters. My muscles just weren’t responding. And you have to listen to the way your body responds.”

Hamels said there are no plans for an MRI or a cortisone injection.

“We’ve talked about everything,” he explained. “I’ve had all the tests done and everything checked out. And I know nothing has gone wrong.”

Hamels said he plans to try to throw another bullpen session off a mound sometime next week.

“I’ve got to slow back down and build it up again,” said Hamels, who threw a bullpen session last Saturday.

“I felt good when I threw my last bullpen, everything was great. But later that day and the next day, my arm felt fatigued. After 35 pitches, my body felt like I had thrown 1,000.

“I’ve been pushing everything I can to get ready and get back, and I pushed a little too hard. I wasn’t able to recover the way I have to.”

Hamels said at this point there is no reason to believe there is anything seriously wrong with his arm.

“I had all the tests done and everything checked out,” he said. “Nothing has gone wrong.

“I’ve just got to start back over and build my arm up for the long haul. I was trying to build the biggest base of strength that I can. With all of the weight that I’ve lost and obviously the strength I’ve lost, especially in my upper body because I wasn’t able to build up just the normal strength that I have in a normal offseason lifting and throwing program, I was trying to get it all back in one short period of time. Something’s got to give. You’re not ready to push it to the next level right at that moment.”

Hamels’ setback is a cause for concern. In recent years, Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Brad Lidge have all declared they were were healthy in spring training but then encountered health problems during the regular season.

The Phillies probably won’t need a fifth starter until April 14. But without Hamels they might have to turn to spring training invitees Sean O’Sullivan, Jeff Manship or David Buchanan.

Even before Thursday, the Phillies were concerned about their starting pitching depth. Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez does not appear ready, Jonathan Pettibone is struggling with right shoulder inflammation, and Ethan Martin is sidelined because of a strained right shoulder capsule and triceps.

-- Jim Hawkins,

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