It has now been nearly three weeks since news emerged that Braves starter Cole Hamels wouldn’t be ready to report to Spring Training on time due to some shoulder irritation. There’s still no timeline in place for him to get back to action, manager Brian Snitker said today, as David O’Brien of The Athletic reports (Twitter links).
There is some evidence of progress, it seems, but the update largely confirms that the Atlanta organization is going to endure a fairly lengthy stretch without the veteran southpaw. A recent medical exam — held, as promised, three weeks after the initial concern arose — revealed that Hamels’s shoulder has improved but that he’s still not ready to resume throwing.
There really isn’t much to go off of here in assessing the situation. The Braves haven’t given much indication of just what Hamels is dealing with, so there’s no context to work with. It isn’t clear when Hamels will go in for another check-up, either. Presumably, he won’t pick up a ball until he receives clearance.
What is clear is that Hamels is certain to miss the start of the season — and not just the minimum 15 days. (Yes, the 15-day IL is back for pitchers.) Even if Hamels is cleared to throw in a week’s time and doesn’t experience further issues, he’d be about a month behind the regular ramp-up schedule and wouldn’t have a chance to tune up in Spring Training competition.
The Braves can certainly weather the loss of Hamels. Sean Newcomb and Felix Hernandez are likely to round out the rotation to open the season, but there are a host of interesting young arms available to call upon depending upon how things progress. Snitker said today that Kyle Wright, Bryse Wilson, and perhaps Touki Toussaint could still challenge for roles. Still, it’s obviously disappointing to lose the team’s major offseason rotation addition — particularly since Hamels was signed in large part to provide reliable innings.