CLEARWATER, Fla. -- If Thursday was left-hander Cole Hamels' final test before joining the Phillies, it would seem he passed with little difficulty.
Hamels breezed through what was likely his final Minor League start for Class A Advanced Clearwater on Thursday night at Bright House Field, allowing only one run on three hits over seven innings against the Tigers' Florida State League affiliate.
Making his third start for the Clearwater Threshers, Hamels gave up just one run on a fifth-inning homer against the Lakeland Flying Tigers. The lefty walked a batter, struck out two and needed only 81 pitches to get through seven innings before heading to the Threshers' bullpen to throw about 10 more pitches.
Hamels was expected to increase his workload to 90 pitches in Thursday's outing, which leaves him lined up to start against the Dodgers in Los Angeles as early as Tuesday.
Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock told reporters on Wednesday that outcome was a "distinct possibility," and manager Ryne Sandberg added he was "optimistic" Hamels could make his season debut at Dodger Stadium.
Hamels declined an interview request after completing his outing Thursday night.
The left-hander has been building up arm strength as he recovers from tendinitis in his left biceps. He made his first Minor League start on March 27 and joined Clearwater's roster on April 5 to begin his rehab assignment. In his three appearances with the Threshers, Hamels allowed four runs on 12 hits and a walk while striking out 12 and surrendering three home runs in 17 innings.
Thanks to a pair of early double plays, Hamels faced the minimum 12 batters through four innings. Lakeland center fielder Connor Harrell crushed a line-drive shot all the way to the tiki bar in left field off Hamels in the fifth inning.
Hamels walked his only batter of the game in the sixth, and Flying Tigers left fielder Chad Wright followed that up with a single to put runners on first and third with one out. But Hamels got the next batter to pop out to shallow center field, and Phillies No. 5 prospect Aaron Altherr connected with catcher Logan Moore to complete an inning-ending double play at the plate.
Hamels erased another defensive error in the seventh with a third double-play grounder then struck out Harrell, his final batter of the game.