Cole Hamels to pitch Sunday for single-A Clearwater

Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels. (Kathy Willens/AP)

ARLINGTON, Texas — Cole Hamels will start his official rehab assignment Sunday for single-A Clearwater, and a return later this month looks increasingly probable.

Hamels, who is recovering from biceps tendinitis and subsequent fatigued arm, said at the end of spring training that he expected to need six starts before being major-league ready. (He has already made two in scrimmages.) Hamels will attempt to simulate a typical spring training one month later than everyone else.

If Hamels pitches every fifth day and does not suffer any setbacks, it could put Hamels back in the Phillies rotation around April 26. But the Phillies could cushion a few of those outings with extra days and have Hamels pitch the opener of a homestand vs. New York on April 29.

That scenario makes sense because it would come on the regular turn for the fifth spot in the rotation. David Buchanan will start triple-A Lehigh Valley's season opener Thursday. That puts him on schedule to pitch April 13 at Citizens Bank Park.

Buchanan would make three starts — at home vs. Miami and on the road against Colorado and Los Angeles — before Hamels replaces him April 29.

Hamels threw 44 pitches Tuesday in an intrasquad scrimmage in Florida. He reported no issues.

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