Hamels ready to go Friday vs. Braves

Hamels ready to go Friday vs. Braves

ST. LOUIS -- Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels hasn't thought about putting a penny in his shoe or a four-leaf clover in his back pocket before taking the mound Friday night against Atlanta.

The Phillies ace, who has battled injuries since missing his Opening Night start April 5 with inflammation in his left elbow, sprained his left ankle last Tuesday against the Nationals. He missed his scheduled start over the weekend, but completed a bullpen session Tuesday afternoon and pronounced himself ready to go for Friday's start against the Braves.

"I haven't," Hamels said of finding a good luck charm. "I just know that it's part of the game. Fortunately, it happened back-to-back, which I'm a lot happier about because I'd rather get it all out of the way than anything. It can happen to anybody.

"I'd rather have had these sort of injuries than say take one off the face and be out on the DL for about 60 days. That's more troubling, like blowing your arm out or blowing your knee out, something that can happen to anyone at anytime in a game. I wouldn't say that these are too bad of injuries to sustain, because I only miss one start and I didn't have to go on the disabled list."

The lefty, who will tape his ankle for his next few starts so that he doesn't risk injuring it further, has now made two bullpen sessions since injuring his ankle fielding a ground ball.

"I'm very happy with the way that I feel," Hamels said. "This bullpen [session] felt a lot better than the last one, even though the last one didn't feel too bad. I'm comfortable on the mound again and I'm not really thinking of the injury. Running and doing the cuts, I didn't feel anything."

Hamels also completed some fielding drills in the Busch Stadium outfield, including simulating covering first base on grounders and fielding a few bunts in front of the plate.

"That was definitely something that I really focused on, before I ever pitched, I wanted to at least know that I can field my position without ever thinking about it," Hamels said. "I didn't think about my ankle at all. I just picked it up and fired it to first and didn't feel anything. So that was good."

Hamels, who is 0-2 with a 7.27 ERA in four starts, was selected to start Friday because it allowed him the maximum number of days to rest his ankle before the Phillies needed another starter. The Phils could have chose to start him Thursday against the division-rival Mets.

"The Atlanta Braves are just as much as important as the Mets right now," said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. "If you want to say, 'Why didn't you line him up for this team or that team?' to me, there is no difference in either one of them. You've got to beat them all."

B.J. Rains is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.