Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels, center, stands with teammates during spring training baseball practice Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Clearwater, Fla. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Cole Hamels feels like he’s entering his first week of spring training.
While that might be worrisome given that March is less than a week away and the regular season begins in five weeks, Hamels remains unconcerned about being behind schedule. After throwing a high-intensity side session on flat ground on Sunday, Hamels said he’s healthy and simply playing catchup.
Hamels will get on the mound and throw his first bullpen session of the spring on Tuesday. Where he’ll fall when the season begins - missing two starts might be a fair rough guesstimate - won’t be determined until the rest of his spring schedule plays out.
“I really don’t know,” Hamels said. “I know right now I’m happy with where I am.”
Hamels experienced shoulder tendonitis in mid-November, when he began rebooting his offseason throwing program. He stopped throwing and was told to put his weight training program on hold, too.
Hamels was cleared to begin lifting last week. He’s been playing catch and long toss during the first two weeks of camp.
His first big step to pitching in an exhibition game will come this week, when he begins his regular side sessions.
“(Tuesday) is pretty much the bullpen before you come into spring training,” Hamels said. “So the next one (Thursday) would be the ‘Day 1 of spring training bullpen’ and, from there, I’d be on the same schedule (the other pitchers) were on.
“The only way I’ll make some better strides is when I get into games and see where I’m at and how comfortably I’m able to show the up/down sessions with two or three innings and 60 or 70 pitches. That’s where I think they’ll make a better judgment of where I am and what I’ll be capable of throwing.”
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