Often-injured left-hander Cole Hamels will make his first start since May 18 tonight in Arizona. Hamels has been on the DL since May 24 with a strained right shoulder.
Immediately following his examination, Hamels (0-0, 3.18 ERA) told the team he felt fine and was ready to pitch again. He was given the green light to rehab in Lakewood, and following a 55-pitch start in front of Pat Gillick and others, flew across the country to rejoin his team in Los Angeles.
It’s crazy to consider all the time, money, travel and energy that followed one "pop," the sound Hamels heard when he was long-tossing. My father will tell you he hears a "pop" just about every time he moves.
Phillies nation responded to the news of Hamels’ setback with a collective "Of course. Why wouldn’t there be a ‘pop?’ " One reader compared Hamels to a unicorn, a mythic beast that exists only in fairy tales. Hamels has yet to pitch a game in Philadelphia, starting his first two games in Cincinnati and Milwaukee. Word is his first home start could come June 16 against Tampa Bay’s young stud Scott Kazmir.
The Phillies will need to make a roster move to clear space for Hamels. No word yet on who that will be, likely a pitcher, but if it wasn’t for the injury Mike Lieberthal suffered last night, I would prefer the man to be Chris Coste. This would cut the Phillies bench to four players. However, with Ryan Madson and Eude Brito scheduled to go the next two games, it’s better to hold onto the extra arm in case both of them melt down once again.
Speaking of that shuttle bus to Scranton, according to the Associated Press, the Phillies may be without Lieberthal tonight. Lieby strained a hip running out an RBI double yesterday and will be re-evaluated before the game tonight.
Burrell bottoming out
Like the patented "Burrell strikeout face" (pictured right), I wince at thought of Pat Burrell lumbering around the bases and outfield in 2008, the year his contract expires. The immobile left-fielder is getting his leg wrapped after every game, with problems with his foot, ankle and lord knows what else.
Burrell, along with right fielder Bobby Abreu, have been the subjects of trade rumors involving the Yankees, with reports the Yanks have scouted both corners.
Abreu, considered by outspoken members of the media to be a bigger disappointment and defensive liability than Burrell, still contributes runs in a significant, elite way, and has hit well with RISP.
As for Burrell, who contributed the bulk of his offense in April, it’s hard to believe scouts would endorse a deal for him at this stage. He can't leg out doubles anymore, he is a liability in the field, and appears to have not much clue in his at bats. His mechanics have always been lousy, and considering his declining health, Burrell looks worse than he has in over a year. Offensively, Aaron Rowand is close to surpassing him in certain advanced numbers. In addition, Burrell has not stepped up against big-time pitching or in big moments, including a .315 OPS with RISP, 2 outs.
After an 0-for-4 last night, Burrell is hitting .261/.385/.511 with 13 homers, still on pace for about 38-40 this season. However, he has one hit in his last 19 at bats and only three homers since May 11.