Time is running out for Cole Hamels to be ready for opening day.
The Braves southpaw didn’t throw his scheduled side session Saturday due to triceps tendinitis, according to manager Brian Snitker. Hamels has been working his way back from shoulder discomfort that prevented him from pitching in spring training.
“I think we’re probably a week away from seeing where things are,” Snitker said. “He’s day to day now as far as when he gets back on the mound. His shoulder feels great. He said he’s going through normal things he has before in spring training. We’re probably a week away from seeing where he’s actually going to be when this thing starts.”
Before the rebooted camp started, the Braves said they expected Hamels to be ready for opening day on July 24. But Hamels hasn’t yet faced live hitters or thrown in a game-like situation. The Braves open in 13 days.
The odds of Hamels being ready for his first turn are declining by the day. One week ago, Hamels said he’d need around three game-like appearances and to be built up around 60-65 pitches.
If Hamels isn’t ready out of the gate, the Braves could turn to Josh Tomlin or Kyle Wright as their fifth starter. Regardless, the team plans to piggyback pitchers when the season begins, so starters likely won’t log more than three or four innings in their earlier outings.
Hamels, 36, signed a one-year, $18 million deal (over $6 million prorated) with the Braves last offseason. After bidding farewell to veterans Julio Teheran and Dallas Keuchel, the Braves hoped Hamels could fill some of the lost innings while mentoring the team’s younger pitchers, especially fellow lefty Max Fried, who also like Hamels is a Southern California native.