Triceps tendinitis prevented Cole Hamels from throwing a side session today, Braves manager Brian Snitker told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Gabriel Burns and other reporters. While Snitker gave no indication that Hamels wouldn’t be ready for the start of the season, the timeline cited by the skipper would seem to leave things cut very close for Hamels to make the initial 30-man roster.
“I think we’re probably a week away from seeing where things are [with Hamels]. He’s day to day now as far as when he gets back on the mound,” Snitker said. “His shoulder feels great. He said he’s going through normal things he has before in spring training. We’re probably a week away from seeing where he’s actually going to be when this thing starts.”
Since Hamels has yet to throw a simulated game or throw to live hitters, he’ll have less than a week before the Braves’ July 24th opener to get properly ramped up, going by Snitker’s “probably a week away” assessment. Hamels could be pushed back to the fifth starter’s role to give him more time to prepare, and he wouldn’t have to pitch for very long, as the club is planning to use a piggyback strategy with all of its rotation — the starter would throw around three innings before being replaced by a reliever — in the season’s early days. However, even if Hamels’ workload was limited, the team might also decide that it isn’t worth having him on the mound at all until he is is completely ready, so as to avoid further injury.
Ironically, Hamels was on pace to miss the original Opening Day, as shoulder issues kept him out of Spring Training prior to the league shutdown. He had recovered from those problems and was expected to be ready to go for the second opener prior to this latest setback. Hamels signed a one-year, $18MM deal with the Braves over the offseason to add some veteran experience and potential upside to a young Atlanta rotation. With Sean Newcomb looking like the favorite to win the normal fifth starter spot, Josh Tomlin or Kyle Wright look like the top choices to fill in for Hamels if he does miss time at the start of the season.