With little to turn to for inspiration for the 2014 Philadelphia Phillies, fans were dealt a swift blow from one of the team’s few beacons of hope Wednesday morning.
Hamels won’t be ready opening day. Shortly after, he said.
— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) February 12, 2014
Franchise starter and $144 million man, Cole Hamels has apparently been dealing with left shoulder discomfort this offseason. Due to the temporary shutdown and rehabilitation program, the projected opening day starter March 31st vs. the Rangers will instead be watching from the dugout.
For a team that has been seemingly devoid of any good news in recent past, to have their brightest star, still in his prime, share this type of news on the first day of pitchers and catchers reporting. By his own word, and according to all indications, Hamels should not miss too much time. Not only did Hamels want to be ‘up front’ with the media and fans rather than try to keep the injury under wraps, but he was quick to paint a rough timeline as to when he should be able to return to the mound.
“I see myself pitching in April.”
Coming off an 8-14 season that saw Hamels post a 3.60 ERA over 33 starts, having a strong beginning to the 2014 campaign was important for the lefty to put any doubt as to whether he is worth his hefty price tag to bed. While the team still has a top-of-the-rotation option remaining in the rotation in Cliff Lee, many feel that the team’s future rests on Hamels’ ability to shape himself into an elite pitcher. To this point in his career, while he remains one of the most impressive talents in the game off the mound, he has yet to put together the type of season that would indicate such a leap.
Hopefully this is a type of situation where the player’s diagnosis is correct and Hamels will only miss a few starts and also be able to return to form. The Phillies have been spurned by this in the past with Chase Utley and it will be extremely important for the organization to monitor Hamels’ injuries with the long-term as a priority. Still, Hamels is 30 years old and one cannot still consider him a ‘young’ talent. The Phillies have expressed their dissatisfaction with some of their largest investments not coming through for them. An injury riddled 2014 campaign for Cole Hamels would probably go at the top of the list of things this team could not afford if they wanted to contend.