Braves encouraged Hamels could join rotation next week

Braves pitchers Max Fried (left) and Cole Hamels talk during a workout in early July.
Braves pitchers Max Fried (left) and Cole Hamels talk during a workout in early July.



The Braves were encouraged by pitcher Cole Hamels' performance in a simulated game at the team’s Gwinnett camp Friday, increasing their hopes that he might finally join the starting rotation next week.

Hamels, the left-hander signed as a free agent last winter, hasn’t pitched in a big-league game yet this season. He missed spring training and the first seven weeks of the delayed season because of shoulder and triceps injuries.

Braves manager Brian Snitker said Hamels threw 43 pitches in three simulated innings Friday.

“Everything went great. ... He felt great,” Snitker said. “We’ll wait and see how he feels (Saturday). That’ll be the real key.

“It was good to get him up and down three times. The reports were great. If he comes in good (Saturday), then … we’re hoping next week sometime we can plug him in there (in the rotation).”

The Braves could get two additions to their struggling rotation next week, with Max Fried expected to come off the injured list after a 10-day stint because of a left-side muscle spasm in his lumbar spine. Fried “is playing catch,” Snitker said, “and everything is trending in the right direction.”

Snitker said it’s possible Hamels or Fried could start a series finale at Baltimore on Wednesday and the other could start a game at New York (Mets) next weekend.

“Oh, man, I think if everything goes right and we could get (Hamels) three starts (before the end of the regular season), that would be really good for us,” Snitker said. “Getting Max back, too, would be a huge boost for us."

Braves notes

⋅ Catcher Tyler Flowers, who was removed from Thursday’s game after being hit in the triceps by a pitch, is “bruised up” but likely will start behind the plate Sunday, Snitker said Friday. “If something happened and he had to catch (Friday or Saturday), I’m not afraid to go to him at all,” the manager said.

⋅ Entering play Friday, the Braves' bullpen had a 2.39 ERA for the season from the sixth inning on – the second best in the majors behind Oakland’s 2.03. Braves relievers allowed one hit, an infield single with two outs in the ninth, over the final four innings of Thursday’s come-from-behind win at Washington.

In Other News