Cole Hamels Planning Comeback In 2023

Cole Hamels is looking for one more shot at continuing his baseball career, and told The Associated Press that he is hoping to catch on with a new team this offseason.  “A Spring Training invite is no risk, all reward.  If you start me out in February, I’ll be ready by April 1,” Hamels said.  “Or I’ll know exactly I can’t do it, and I will be the first one to admit, nope, I had a great career. I can hang it up and be proud of what I did.”

The left-hander is a veteran of 15 Major League seasons (2006-20), and is best remembered as one of the key figures of the Phillies’ 2008 World Series team.  Hamels was named the MVP of both the NLCS and World Series during that championship season, the highlight of an excellent 10-year run in Philadelphia.  After being traded to the Rangers in 2015, Hamels spent parts of four seasons in Texas before heading to the Cubs in 2018-19, and then one single game with the Braves in 2020.

That lone game represents Hamels’ last appearance in the big leagues.  Triceps and shoulder injuries limited his time in Atlanta, and after he inked a $1MM deal with the Dodgers in August 2021, his Los Angeles stint was also derailed by injuries.  Continued shoulder problems resulted in surgery, and Hamels has now spent over a year both recovering and taking care of some other related health issues.

The shoulder procedure was only one of three surgeries for Hamels over the last year, as he also dealt with a pinched nerve in his left foot and a torn right meniscus.  “It’s hard to train when you’ve got body parts that are not doing what they’re supposed to do to allow you to do what you want to do,” Hamels said, and the fuller scope of surgeries allowed for more “understanding what was kind of wrong, getting it fixed and then actually being able to rehab it, just kind of addressing the right areas and not trying to overcompensate.”

This cleaner bill of health could make any interested teams feel more comfortable about signing a pitcher who turns 39 later in December, and who essentially hasn’t pitched in three full seasons.  However, as Hamels noted, there isn’t much risk in a minor league contract, and clubs can use spring camp as a better chance to evaluate what the southpaw can still bring to the table.  While Hamels would ideally like to start games, his primary goal is just getting back onto the mound, as he said he is “not opposed” to working as a reliever.

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