Hamels ruled out for start of season, Fried will start second game



Braves manager Brian Snitker had recently said it was unlikely Cole Hamels would be ready by opening day. He confirmed that Sunday, ruling the left-handed pitcher out for the season’s beginning.

“Cole will not be able (to be ready by the start of the season),” Snitker said. “He’s going to be behind. He’ll continue to throw and go through his throwing program. There’s just not enough time to get him amped up and stretched out to where he can start when we open the year. He’ll just continue to work and get on his program.”

Hamels has been behind since spring training, when he was delayed due to shoulder discomfort suffered during offseason workouts. Hamels continued his rehab and preparation over the pandemic-induced break, progressing enough that days before camps reopened, general manager Alex Anthopoulos said they expected him to be ready for the start of the season.

But Hamels, 36, has moved slowly through the rebooted training camp. He was stalled last weekend by a left-triceps tendinitis and still hasn’t faced hitters. Even before last week, it’d reached a point that it seemed far-fetched that Hamels would be ready in time, but the Braves didn’t publicly rule him out until Sunday, five days before the team opens the 60-game regular season.

“There just wasn’t any way he’d be able to go in the beginning,” Snitker said.

Hamels will likely be placed on the injured list.

The Braves’ pitching group is deep enough to withstand the loss, however long it may be. It’s still disappointing for an offseason acquisition the Braves felt would provide stability to their rotation.

Other notes from Sunday:

- Max Fried will start the Braves’ second game in New York, Snitker announced. Fried will pitch five innings in Sunday’s intrasquad game, his final appearance before the regular season.

The Braves haven’t yet reveal their rotation plans beyond opening-day starter Mike Soroka and Fried. Mike Foltynewicz is the likely third starter, while Sean Newcomb is currently positioned to be the fourth. The Braves have options on the fifth day, including Kyle Wright, Bryse Wilson and Josh Tomlin, whose availability will be determined in how he’s potentially used out of the bullpen in the previous few games.

- Third baseman Johan Camargo suffered a hamstring cramp during Saturday night’s game. Snitker didn’t express much concern afterward, and in his follow-up Sunday, he remained optimistic Camargo wouldn’t miss much time.

The Braves will give Camargo a couple days off and evaluate him from there. When asked if he was concerned Camargo might be unavailable on opening day, which is just five days from Sunday, Snitker said he wasn’t as of Sunday.

“We’ll see when he comes in and they test him out,” Snitker said. “I’d say I don’t have any concern right now. That could change in the next couple days depending on how he responds to treatment and where he’s at. Until they get their hands on him today, I just know what they felt like when he left last night. But as we all know, guys can come in and things can happen over the night and they could be a little worse than we’d hoped they were.”

- Tomlin, 35, spoke with reporters Sunday and unsurprisingly raved about his team, especially the pitching staff. He laughed about Soroka because the 22-year old was trying to game plan for an intrasquad start. He applauded Newcomb’s determination and aggressiveness on the mound. He lauded Foltynewicz’s mental strength and said he expects a full rebound from the disastrous Game 5 outing in last year’s NLDS elimination.

Overall, Tomlin stressed that the Braves’ pitchers just try to be themselves, which is a testament to their maturity.

“These guys aren’t trying to be each other,” he said. “They’re trying to be who they are. That’s the most deciding factor of a young kid reaching the potential they’re already on. It’s understanding who you are as a pitcher and not trying to change that. It’s about harnessing that, trying to be better at what you’re capable of doing instead of trying to be more.

“These guys get that. They understand it, they work at it. They talk to each other on the bench. Some of the best rotations I’ve been part of, that’s what it was like. Not to mean this in a bad way, you almost miss half the game because you’re sitting there talking about how you would face that team, or what you’d do against that team, to try to understand little tidbits to make yourself better or make that guy successful the next day. … That’s just the island starting pitchers live on sometimes. They are no different.”