CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Cole Hamels declared Wednesday morning what every Phillies fan wants to hear:
All is well.
Hamels threw his first bullpen session of the spring at Bright House Field, and the lefty will throw his second one on Saturday. Hamels, who is a little less than two weeks behind schedule after feeling discomfort in his left shoulder in November, could open the season on the disabled list, but everyone in camp seems to believe that if he misses any time, it will be only a start or two.
"It was good," Hamels said. "Better than expected, which is huge. It didn't feel as foreign, getting off the mound after such a long time. But everything felt good.
"Physically, I've been feeling great. It just carried over. Now it's just getting the reps in, working on location, working on pitches. But I still have a really good feel for what I'm doing out there. Ultimately, I feel like my strength has really picked up. It's just a matter of time of getting through the throwing program, the bullpens, the live [batting practice] and into the games. I'm really looking forward to it."
Hamels said earlier this month he typically is ready to pitch after just four Spring Training starts. He made five last year.
Does Hamels have enough time to make four before the end of Spring Training?
"Ultimately, I hope so," Hamels said. "I don't think I'm going to have any setbacks. I feel really good where I am physically. I feel like they're going to slot me in there and I'll be able to get that in. I feel like I'll recover like I normally do. I'm not worried at all about being ready for the season.
"I know when I first talked to you guys, an injury is always the biggest concern, and I think the biggest worry. I didn't have an injury. It was just a matter of building up. There's nothing to really worry about in any sort of injury-related throwing. I've been there. I've done it before. I feel really confident that I can get everything done and I can be in the best shape I can for the season."
Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said he is encouraged by Hamels' progress. Pitching coach Bob McClure said, "He is behind, but if I saw him off the street and I saw him today for his first time, he would look perfectly normal. It's just that he's started later, so he's behind."
Hamels could see his first Grapefruit League start in two weeks.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com.