Hamels encouraged by latest bullpen session

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies lefthander Cole Hamels continues to show progress and felt optimistic after throwing a bullpen session on Wednesday morning that included every pitch but his curveball.

Hamels is not expected to return to action until sometime in May due to biceps tendinitis and a fatigued arm.

“It went really well,” Hamels said of his bullpen sessions. “I am pleased with now being able to build up my pitch count.”

Hamels estimated that he threw 40-45 pitches.

This was Hamels' third bullpen after an 11-day layoff earlier while he was battling fatigue.

Next up will be throwing batting practice. He plans to throw two different batting practice sessions, the first coming on Saturday.

Hamels was able to do all the basics in this bullpen session, including pitching out of a windup.

“We did a lot of pitches out of the stretch and introduced the windup, which I haven’t done since last year,” Hamels said.

He admitted to having some rust throwing out of a windup.

“Your balance is a little off, there are a lot of moving parts when you’re as tall as me to get through the windup and to be able to execute a pitch at the exact place you are intending to,” he said.

The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Hamels last threw a bullpen session on Sunday. He threw 33 pitches then, all fastballs, so he continues to progress.

On Wednesday he threw cutters and changeups and says that the curveball is always the last pitch he incorporates. Hamels says he has about 90 percent strength, not just in his arm but his entire body.

“It’s that last 10 percent that takes a little bit longer but at the same time, when you are able to get it, then it is there for the long haul,” he said.

Never has Hamels been more excited to throw an upcoming batting practice.

“It is a really a good test to see where you are at, how your pitches are coming out and how guys are seeing them off you and how they are working with a bat going through the zone,” Hamels said.