The injury has gone from having a positive outlook to being a cause for concern in a matter of a few weeks. Hamels' health should scare fans in the Philadelphia area.
Hamels spoke to CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury about progressing with his rehab on February 23:
"I’m feeling like my body is ready to make a big jump. I feel right where I usually am about Feb. 1 going into spring training. That’s about the time I’m usually ready for my first 'pen. I’m happy where I am."
On Thursday, March 6, however, Hamels spoke to the Philadelphia Daily News' Ryan Lawrence. The injury has began taking a turn for the worst:
I believe I threw 35 pitches. To my body it felt like a thousand. I think I pushed it a little too hard too quickly. And I wasn't able to recover the way I obviously use to or would be accustomed to. I didn't feel like it was safe to push it in that direction because I think that would have led to injuries. So I’m just really trying to allow my body to catch up. I’m trying to build the biggest base of strength that I possibly can to throw. And in the short period that I have had, I wasn't able to build it the best I could to face hitters.
To top it off, the Phillies' starting rotation is not panning out to what it was projected to be. Hamels was supposed to anchor a rotation that featured innings-eater A.J. Burnett, former Cy Young winner Cliff Lee, Kyle Kendrick and a combination of veteran Roberto Hernandez and offseason acquisition Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.
Lee has been impressive in his brief stint this spring.
Burnett surrendered six runs on seven hits in three innings of work on Friday afternoon against the Baltimore Orioles.
Kendrick bounced back after a rough first appearance against the New York Yankees.
Hernandez has been decent, and Gonzalez has struggled mightily, which has created room for speculating if he is good enough to be in the starting rotation come April.
|Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez||2.2||16.87||2||5||6||.462|
Where do the 1-8 Phillies go from here if Hamels can't be ready until April or later and the rotation is undecided?
There was also a report from The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo, regarding the status of free-agent starting pitcher Ervin Santana:
Phillies now inquiring about Ervin Santana— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) March 7, 2014
Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer later refuted the original report via Twitter:
The Phillies have not inquired about Ervin Santana, a team source said, refuting an earlier report.— Matt Gelb (@magelb) March 7, 2014
But should Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. take a look at the veteran starter?
Santana is reportedly looking for a one-year deal from a ballclub prior to Opening Day, according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal (h/t MLB Trade Rumors). Signing him to a deal would cost the team a draft pick.
The team could also look to youth in the rotation, but again, there are not many positives to consider.
Jonathan Pettibone went 5-4 with a 4.04 ERA in 18 starts during the 2013 season for Philadelphia. David Buchanan, a Rule 5 pick from December, is impressing on the mound but has made only six starts at Triple-A Lehigh Valley prior to this season. Jeff Manship has started 10 games in his major league career and owns a 6.42 ERA. Ethan Martin went down with an injury the first day of spring training.
What originally started out as a minor injury, resulting in a few missed starts, has turned into a major scare for the Phillies.
Will Cole Hamels be ready by the first week of the season?
A team that needs a plethora of things to pan out has experienced failure from the rotation early on. There are a bunch of "ifs" to help fill the voids, but zero reliability. Because of these reasons, the city of Philadelphia should be concerned with the health of its ace.
The team's success dwindles along with Hamels' shoulder.