CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Ace left-hander Cole Hamels pronounced himself ready to throw his first bullpen session of the spring after throwing from 60 feet on flat ground Sunday at the Carpenter Complex. That's good news for the Phillies, who hope he'll miss only a couple regular-season starts after an offseason bout with biceps tendinitis.
An upbeat Hamels said he's pleased with not only his throwing progress but the fact that he was cleared to begin lifting weights again about a week ago.
"It feels good. I feel really good. I've made tremendous progress," he said. "I think I've been able to do everything to the best of my ability at the right time, at the right pace. Everything has been that slow progression, and now I feel like my body is capable of making the big jumps.
Hamels said he isn't ready to put a timetable on his return.
"I really don't know. I know right now I'm happy with where I am," he said. "I know I'm going to have the big strides and get used to pitching up and down, mixing in bullpens. That's a different intensity. Different sorenesses come up. But I feel comfortable that nothing is painful. It's just the soreness of throwing a baseball, not in a specific area, so I think that's better."
Said pitching coach Bob McClure: "He was good. Real good. Free and easy."
Hamels said he'd prefer to build up to at least 100 pitches before his first start of the regular season, but that's not a necessity.
"The ultimate goal of every pitcher is to pitch a complete game, so 100 pitches gives you a better opportunity than 90 or 85. That's what I'm working toward," Hamels said. "But if that doesn't happen and I'm at 80 or 85, I feel like I still can give the team a really good chance. I'm also really confident in the bullpen this year … it's been fun to see them."
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.