Breaking news from Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr.:
Cole Hamels will leave Clearwater tonight for the Philadelphia area to have his left elbow examined tomorrow by team doctor Michael Ciccotti. Amaro said that Hamels’ had complained of “a little bit of a persistent soreness” in the elbow. “We thought it was important at this time for Dr. Ciccotti to check it out,” Amaro said, while downplaying his concern.
The GM was asked if Hamels’ April 5 opening night start could be in jeopardy. "It's a possibility, I guess," Amaro said. "But again, we won't know anything until the doctor sees him. Right now he's still on course to do that. We'll see if there are any further issues.
“We thought it was important for Dr. Ciccotti to check him out and see if there is anything more serious than what we think it is. He'll decide once he sees him tomorrow morning if he needs to do any testing or any further testing. We did do a physical on him before we ended up finalizing the multiyear deal with him and felt comfortable with the diagnostics and such. But, you know, he's had a little bit of persistent soreness and we want to be cautious about it and have him checked out."
Hamels pitched four innings in a minor intrasquad game yesterday, and pitching coach Rich Dubee said afterward that “he did fine.”
“He was (fine),” Amaro said this morning. "But he's still got a little bit of soreness in there. We don't feel that it's serious, but again, I don't have a crystal ball. I can't look inside his elbow. We just want to be cautious, and we thought it was important that he sees our doctor in Philly."
Including the postseason, Hamels pitched 262 1/3 innings last season, by far the most of his career. In 2007, he spent time on the 15-day disabled list with a left elbow strain.
Amaro said that Hamels does not feel pain when he throws. "(The elbow) starts to get tight in between innings. It's more of a tightness than anything else… I don't believe he feels it when he throws."
Dr. Ciccotti will determine tomorrow morning if any further tests are necessary.
Hamels will apparently address the media later this morning, so keep checking.
UPDATE (10:01 AM): At about 9:45 AM, the Inquirer's Jim Salisbury saw Hamels long tossing at a distance of about 125 feet in the outfield at Bright House. The lefty is currently taking PFP (pitchers' fielding practice) with the team, fielding choppers on a back field. That tells us that the team feels okay about having him on the field and throwing a baseball, at least.
UPDATE 11AM: Hamels just addressed the media. Like Amaro, he downplayed the level of concern. "It's not a big deal," Hamels said, explaining that he was experiencing "inflammation" just below his left elbow. "It's something I don't want to have to deal with through the season...I have it every spring training, but normally it lasts about a week to two weeks." Because the issue hung around longer than usual, Hamels said, "that's when the flashing lights go off."
Hamels and team officials had been monitoring the situation for weeks, and decided this morning that a check-up would be wise. He still expects to start opening day.