CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Cole Hamels called this a big week, and Wednesday represented another step forward for him.
Hamels threw 40-plus pitches in a bullpen session in the morning at Bright House Field. If he feels OK on Thursday, he is expected to throw to hitters in a live batting practice session Saturday. Hamels expects to throw one more live BP after that before potentially pitching in a game.
"It went really well," Hamels said of his bullpen session. "I'm pleased, being able to build my pitch count, getting the reps I need. I was able to get a lot of pitches out of the stretch, and I introduced the windup, which I haven't done since last year. Getting familiar with that again and being able to build the reps from there, it's obviously a step in the right direction."
Hamels is weeks behind schedule and will open the season on the disabled list. He suffered inflammation in his left shoulder in November, which halted his normal offseason throwing and strengthening programs. He appeared to be recovering nicely earlier this month before suffering a setback, saying his arm felt fatigued.
Hamels said he has most of his total body strength back -- about 90 percent in his estimations -- which will allow him to continue without further setbacks.
"It's that last 10 percent that really takes a little bit longer," Hamels said. "But at the same time, when you're able to get it, it's there. It's there for the long haul.
"We've been staying on the safe side. I think -- seeing how I've been able to feel, how I've been able to respond -- we can get a little more aggressive. Ultimately, we'll always be cautious and on the safe side to get ready for games."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.