Hamels says he is 'a couple days away'; Friday start likely

"I'm a couple days away. I really am," Cole Hamels said. (Ed Hille/Staff file photo)

Cole Hamels won't pitch Monday or Tuesday. But the lefthander should be ready to take the mound on Friday, a schedule that was made possible by today's rainout. Hamels said this morning that most of the pain in his ankle has subsided and that the last hurdle standing between him and a return to the field is his ability to run the bases and field his position.

"I've been fine walking," he said. "It's not too bad. I'm a couple days away. I really am. I don't want it to be something where I can throw pitches but can't cover my position."

Because of today's rainout, Joe Blanton will start tomorrow in St. Louis, followed by righthander Brett Myers. The rest of the rotation - Chan Ho Park on Wednesday and Jamie Moyer on Thursday - will start on its regular fifth day, leaving Hamels to occupy Friday's game against the Braves.

Hamels is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday. He will also take fielding practice at some point in the near future to test the ankle.

"The big concern was trying to play my position and having to run," Hamels said. "I know I can put down a bunt, but I still have to run to first base. I can't just put down a bunt and walk to the dugout. If I was another team, I was bunting to me the first couple of times just to see how I do. So I think it's moreso taking some grounders and having to cover first, I think that's first."

Park will also get another start. Manager Charlie Manuel left the door open for a potential change after Park struggled on Friday, but pitching coach Rich Dubee said the righthander will remain in the rotation.