Braves expect Cole Hamels to be ready for start of season

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Here’s a quick by-the-numbers look at veteran pitcher Cole Hamels.

The Braves expect left-hander Cole Hamels to be ready for a late-July opening day, general manager Alex Anthopoulos said Wednesday afternoon.

Hamels, 36, missed the original spring training because of left-shoulder discomfort sustained during offseason workouts. He wouldn’t have been ready for a March 26 opening day, obviously, but the team now expects he’ll be on the active roster when the season begins July 23 or 24.

Hamels has been “feeling great” and will throw a bullpen session Friday.

“We’ll have him come in, and we’ll see how things progress with all of our guys and how much we can get them stretched out,” Anthopoulos said. “We’ll see how long that takes with all our rotation candidates. But right now, in terms of our projections, he’s someone we plan to carry with us to start the year. Things can change over the course of a month, but right now we plan on being able to carry all these guys.”

The Braves signed Hamels to a one-year, $18 million deal this offseason. The Braves needed innings eaters, especially after letting Julio Teheran and Dallas Keuchel depart in free agency, and Hamels fit the bill despite recent oblique troubles that cost him time in two of the past three seasons.

A bonus to acquiring Hamels, a former World Series MVP, was his enthusiasm for mentoring the Braves’ younger starters. He was an ideal fit for the club given his resume, clubhouse personality and willingness to take a short contract.

When the season begins, the Braves have already discussed their starters pitching shorter outings in their first two turns, per Anthopoulos. The Braves want to be extra cautious with their starters, meaning each may only pitch two, three or four innings in his first one or two starts.

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