Why the Phillies Might Be Concerned: Cole Hamels' Shoulder Stiffness

It might be absolutely nothing but then again, last night's loss to the Washington Nationals coupled with a very odd chain of events leads me to speculate that there could be a big story brewing. Judging by the way they handled last nights game and comments made by Charlie Manuel in the post-game press conference, I speculate that the Phillies might be a little bit concerned with the health and conditioning of their third ace, Cole Hamels.

Hamels' fastball is typically in the low 90's, sometimes touching 94. Last night, Hamels didn't touch 90. Consistently hitting 88, his velocity was down and his control was off as he walked more batters last night than any other start this season.

Obviously, reduced velocity in and of itself is not enough to sound the alarms but when Charlie Manuel uses the words, "shoulder stiffness" in his press conference, that is surely something that raises eyebrows. There are certain words and phrases which cause pitchers to cringe- shoulder stiffness, elbow inflammation and reduced velocity are not too far behind Tommy John and Dr. Andrews. Charlie is a tell it like it is kind of guy but I can't imagine him uttering those words haphazardly.

Again, this is purely speculation but two other things that seemed odd to me could conceivably be connected to this possible issue. First, an odd pre-game press conference by Ruben Amaro which was supposedly being called to update the media on the status of Placido Polaco turned out to be completely unrevealing. Amaro might as well stood up there and told us the weather. In hindsight, I wonder whether it could have been precautionary; in the event that they would have to scratch Hamels last minute. There's also the sheer fact that they had Kendrick up very early despite the fact that Hamels had only allowed three earned runs. The careful nature with which they handled his innings tells me that they knew heading into the game that something might not have been right.

Finally, the team as a whole was flat. Rollins was caught not busting it out of the box in the early going and it just seemed like they were all anticipating something awful. I know it's a stretch and hopefully I'm wrong but if there is somthing wrong with Cole Hamels, it would be a devastating blow to a team that has seemed almost unbeatable.


  1. It's now 3 days later and we haven't heard anything different about Hamels, so I'm hoping you're wrong.

  2. On the fourth day, there's news... a precautionary MRI on his shoulder was performed. Not out of the woods yet, Hersh.


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