CLEARWATER, Fla. — When Cole Hamels informed Phillies doctors last November of the soreness in his left shoulder, there was an agreement among everyone that caution was prudent. The team deemed the biceps tendinitis so minor that an MRI was not ordered. When asked to provide health updates in January, Ruben Amaro Jr. excluded Hamels.
The general manager sat on a blue picnic table Thursday and preached calmness before his pitchers and catchers started their first official workout.
"We're not trying to hide anything," Amaro said. "Everyone thinks we're trying to hide things. The fact of the matter is we just want to be cautious with the guy. He's too important to us for us not to be cautious now."
Hamels will not be ready for opening day, but the Phillies expect him to pitch sometime in April. The Phillies have invested $144 million in their lefthander and, although a good start is paramount for this team, are willing to practice discretion.
"Why would we want to push him?" Amaro said. "If we wanted to push him and tell him to get ready for opening day, we might be able to do that. But what's the point? There is no point in doing that."
Amaro would not comment on the team's pending acquisition of A.J. Burnett. The righthander has agreed to terms, according to a source, but has yet to take his physical. The deal is for one year and $16 million, according to Fox Sports.
Burnett said late last season he would pitch for Pittsburgh or retire. The Pirates offered $12 million to Burnett, according to multiple reports, but fell short of the Phillies' bid.
"He informed us it was family based," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "The player made a decision to be closer to home. He loved his time here."
The news of Burnett's addition permeated the Phillies clubhouse Thursday morning. Catcher Carlos Ruiz's eyes widened when he was informed of the transaction.
"He can only help us," righthander Kyle Kendrick said. "He has great stuff."
Kendrick figures to slot fourth in the rotation once Hamels returns. Roberto Hernandez, who signed for $4.5 million in December, is the favorite for the fifth starters' job, although Amaro said it is an open competition. His tune may change when Burnett officially signs.
Amaro indicated it is best for Cuban import Miguel Gonzalez to start, so if he does not make the team, he is likely to begin at triple-A Lehigh Valley. Gonzalez signed for three years and $12 million last summer.
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