As a part of the Braves Opening Day at home feature last night, general manager Alex Anthopoulos was interviewed and put fans’ minds at ease about one of the Braves’ prized free-agent acquisitions — Cole Hamels.
Anthopoulos informed us that the 36-year-old, who was on track to miss the first month of the season, is on schedule in his recovery. Hamels is no longer feeling pain in his throwing shoulder, and if things were going as normal today, he would be making his first couple of rehab starts. Unfortunately, they aren’t, and there’s no set timetable for the MLB to return. However, whenever it does, Hamels should be stretched out and ready to start from the jump.
Anthopoulos also commented on the battle for the final rotation spot between Sean Newcomb, Felix Hernandez, and Kyle Wright. All three were incredible in the abbreviated Spring Training that took place, and he said two out of the three would have made the Opening Day rotation. Of course, that was assuming Cole Hamels would begin the year on the Injured List. But just because Hamels should be ready whenever the season does begin, doesn’t mean two of these guys won’t make the roster. In fact, I would say it’s even more likely now that two make the roster, if not all three.
In a shortened season, there are expected to be fewer off days, more double-headers, and expanded rosters for part of the season (from 26 to 29 players). All teams will be forced to carry at least six starters, and the Braves might want to keep an option like Kyle Wright or Felix Hernandez around as a long reliever. The promising news about all of this is — while most teams are scrambling to find five decent starters — the Braves have seven legit options, if not more, which should be a substantial advantage in an inevitably condensed season.
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