PHILADELPHIA -- Cole Hamels said he feels fine and expects to be back in the Phillies' rotation next week.
But the Phillies said Tuesday he will miss at least one start because of inflammation in the back of his left shoulder, which is worth watching with a little more than six weeks remaining before the postseason. Hamels' velocity has dropped in each of his previous five starts, which prompted him to have an MRI exam Monday.
Hamels said Tuesday the results showed "everything I thought was not wrong. Everything looked good, and that's kind of what the feeling was."
Hamels, who did not receive a cortisone injection, said he will begin throwing again Wednesday with a bullpen session possibly Friday. If he continues to feel OK, he could be back in the rotation as early as Monday against the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park.
Why is Hamels unconcerned about the inflammation?
"We've got five pitchers who I think all have inflammation in their shoulders right now," he said.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said the Phillies compared Monday's MRI results with the MRI results Hamels received before he signed his three-year, $20.5 million contract extension before the 2009 season. Amaro said there were no changes, meaning they found no structural damage to the shoulder.
Hamels said he isn't sure what limitations he will have upon his return.
"Trying to throw 120 pitches would be a little difficult," he said. "It's just going out and making one pitch at a time."
Amaro sounded cool to the idea of employing a six-man rotation to give Hamels, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee a little extra rest before the end of the season, but he did not shoot down the idea completely.
"We can't take anything for granted," Amaro said. "We've still got a lot of baseball left. Our goal is to still win the division. We've got to have these guys pitch. At this time, we'll try to be cognizant of the workload they've had, because they've had a pretty significant one."