By John Manuel and Will Kimmey
February 1, 2005
Going into 2004, Cole Hamels was the Phillies' top prospect and one of the top lefthanders in the minor leagues.
But after missing most of 2004 with biceps tendintis, Hamels will have his 2005 comeback delayed. He broke the fifth metacarpal—the long bone in the palm of the hand that leads to the pinkie finger—in his left (throwing) hand during an altercation over the weekend in Clearwater, Fla.
The injury will preclude Hamels from pitching competitively for up to three months following surgery, scheduled for Thursday. He was examined Monday in Philadelphia by hand specialist Dr. Randall Culp, who will insert a pin during the surgery. The pin will be removed about three weeks later, and three weeks after that (in about mid-March), Hamels will be able to start light throwing.
"We are certainly disappointed that this has occurred," Phillies general manager Ed Wade said in a statement. "Cole is a top prospect who has a chance to move quickly through our system, but he put himself in a position that slows his development, and that is unfortunate."
Farm director Steve Noworyta said the Phillies are still investigating the altercation before determining if the organization would suspend Hamels for his role in it.
"I've got to find out everything before we do anything," he said. "It depends on what the situation (was) and whatever; we do have rules (about altercations) and all but we have to figure out what happened."
Hamels, who had been invited to major league camp two weeks ago, will now report instead when minor league camp opens in early March. The injury also probably will mean Hamels will end up back at high Class A Clearwater, where he went 1-0, 1.13 in four starts last summer. He struck out 24 in just 16 innings.
Because of his well-above-average changeup, a fastball that touches 94, a developing curveball and advanced feel for pitching, Hamels was poised to jump to Double-A Reading had he stayed healthy.
Instead, he has put himself behind schedule for the second time.