ATLANTA -- Cole Hamels did a Zoom session with media members on Monday afternoon and 90 minutes later essentially ended his forgettable tenure with the Braves.
Hamels was placed on the 10-day injured list after he informed the Braves training staff he felt his left shoulder was too weak to make Tuesday night’s start against the Marlins. The team responded by requesting MLB to remove the lefty from the 40-man postseason player pool, which consists of only players eligible to participate for a team during the playoffs.
That means Hamels ended up making just one start for the Braves, who had given him a one-year, $18 million deal this past winter.
“He said he felt like he just couldn’t get anything behind the ball,” Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos said.
Though it seemed like it was just one thing after another with Hamels, this development caught the Braves by surprise. They didn’t learn anything about the shoulder issue until the 36-year-old southpaw informed the trainers around 4:30 p.m. ET, a little more than an hour after Hamels had been asked by reporters about Tuesday’s scheduled start.
Braves manager Brian Snitker said Hamels played catch between talking to the media and informing the team of his latest shoulder issue. The 2008 World Series MVP had gotten through last week’s season debut without any issues and completed what the team believed was a discomfort-free side session this past weekend at Citi Field.
“You just kind of felt good about things and getting him a couple more starts,” Snitker said. “I just hate it for him. He worked so hard and put so much time in. I was excited to get him back out there a couple more times to see where we could get him before this season is over.”
All indications were Hamels would take the mound on Tuesday to make the second of what would have been three regular-season starts. But this proved to be just a continuation of a saga that began in February, when Hamels informed the team of left shoulder inflammation that sidelined him throughout Spring Training.
Had the season started on time, Hamels would have likely debuted in late May or early June. Still, when Summer Camp opened in early July, he was behind schedule in that he wasn’t ready to immediately throw live batting practice like the other projected starters.
One week into Summer Camp, Hamels developed left shoulder tendinitis. This was the ailment that sidelined him for the first eight weeks of this 10-week regular season. It was quite ambitious to think he could make three regular-season starts, two of which would consist of fewer than 75 pitches, and then be effective for the postseason.
But this was a chance the rotation-depleted Braves were willing to make until learning the shoulder was once again an issue.
Hamels allowed three earned runs over 3 1/3 innings while facing the Orioles in his season debut last Wednesday. It marked the first time he had pitched in a game since the Cubs sent him to the mound to face the Cardinals on Sept. 28, 2019. He was limited to just four innings that day after having been shut down over the previous week because of left shoulder inflammation.
Still, the Braves gambled on that shoulder. This year’s prorated salaries reduced the cost to approximately $6.7 million for what amounted to 10 outs in one start.
“He was champing at the bit to get back,” Anthopoulos said. “Cole knows himself and his body. You trust a player at that point when he says, ‘I can’t go.’ It’s not one of those things [where] you want to try to talk a player into [pitching].”