In Cole Hamels’ first rehab appearance with the Rough Riders, he was as good as one could expect and hope for. Rehabbing from a right oblique strain that landed him on the disabled list for the longest stint of his career, the Rangers’ 34-year old co-ace rolled through the San Antonio Missions over three innings, allowing just one hit and throwing a spectacular 25 of 35 pitches for strikes. He was actually too efficient, needing to throw around 20 more pitches in a bullpen session.
On a bright, slightly cloudy day in Frisco, Hamels was scheduled to throw roughly 75 pitches, or about 5 innings, as a way to gauge his readiness for a Major League return. The lefty’s next scheduled time on the mound could mean he returns to start the series opener in Cleveland against the Indians on Monday.
Cole Hamels was more than up to the task.
He was sharp through two, ambushed for a first pitch homer on the second batter of the game, Yairo Munoz and nothing more. His game plan of attacking hitters, working through a 14-pitch first and a 13-pitch second, was executed to a T. A very lengthy (but offensively fun) bottom of the second probably had Hamels wishing he could join his family early in the Choctaw Casino Lazy River.
Press on, our ace did, however, giving up only a walk in the third and completing it in 15 pitches. Hamels worked very, very quickly and continued to attack the strike zone with aplomb. With the radar gun in Frisco being a little off (or sometimes completely off), our best guess is that Hamels’ fastball lived in the lower 90s with a curve in the high 70s. The shortest inning for Hamels was a six-pitch fourth, with a bloop single, a fly to right and a nifty 4-6-3 double play.
Hamels had another long reprieve in the bottom of the fourth, as Frisco batted around and scored four times. After throwing 60 pitches through five innings, it was thought that Hamels would head to the bullpen to finish his goal of 75. This was not to be so, as it was announced that the lefty would head out for a sixth inning of work.
He struck out the first batter on five pitches, got the second Rockhound to fly out on five pitches, and then Yairo Munoz – he of the lone blemish on Hamels’ run line in the first – battled the Ranger for a 10-pitch walk, thus ending Hamels’ day.
In short, Hamels was aggressive, worked quickly, missed bats, fielded his position, threw a double-play ball when necessary, and was able to get up and down five times with a couple of very long half-innings to sit through – all with no issue.
Hamels was in such a fast-paced rhythm that the the pitch clock used between tosses in the minors wasn’t ever a factor. In fact, Hamels himself said he didn’t even notice it.
Hamels met with the media afterwards and declared himself ready to go.
“Yeah, things went well. I think, ultimately we’ll see how I feel tomorrow and get back to…a five-day routine. Obviously, I bounced back really well from the last start with five days, so I think that will be the tell-tale sign, with how I feel tomorrow and ultimately, with that bullpen, we’ll see where we’re at.”
As for whether he’ll be on the bump at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario to face the Indians?
“You know. It’s not up to me,” Hamels said with a wry smile.
Cole Hamels’ final line in Frisco for Wednesday was: 5.2 IP, 1 R-ER, 5 K, 2 BB, 57 strikes, 81 pitches.
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