Cole Hamels believes he can return after two more rehab outings

By Matt Snyder | Baseball Writer

Cole Hamels is getting closer to a return to the Phillies rotation.
Cole Hamels is getting closer to a return to the Phillies rotation. (USATSI)

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Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels continues to work toward coming back after shoulder discomfort delayed him in spring training. The latest news is that he believes he needs just two more minor-league rehab starts before returning to the big-league club.

"I believe the big test is the pitch count," Hamels said ( "If I'm able to get 90 pitches, I know that I'm game ready because that gives me enough pitches and enough reps with my pitches to be able to go out there and have the confidence I can throw, especially to big league guys."

Hamels last worked Sunday in Class A, where he threw 65 pitches. The plan is to increase by 15 pitches each outing, which means he'll be over the 90-pitch threshold two outings from now.

Hamels will next start Friday with High-A Clearwater and if he only needs two more outings -- that is, if he doesn't suffer a setback -- he'll be ready to rejoin the Phillies April 21.

The 30-year-old lefty was 8-14 with a 3.60 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 202 strikeouts in 220 innings last season. This is the first time he's been on the DL since 2011.

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