Cole Hamels plays empty locker prank, may miss just one start


Ryne Sandberg says it’s possible that Cole Hamels may miss just one start because of a mild right hamstring strain. Hamels played catch in the outfield late Thursday morning at Citizens Bank Park and was later scratched from his scheduled Friday night start against the St. Louis Cardinals.

It was natural to wonder if Hamels had been traded when it was announced that he would miss a start. Of course, he had not been.

Hamels was not available for comment after Thursday’s game, but he did take the opportunity to have a little fun with the situation by emptying the contents of his locker and removing his nameplate. Upon entering the clubhouse after the game, reporters wondered whether the pitcher had been traded. It was just a prank, Hamels having a little fun with everybody.

Phillippe Aumont, who was waived off the 40-man roster at the end of spring training, will return to the majors and take Hamels’ place on Friday night. Aumont, who struggled in several tries as a big-league reliever, has found some success as a starter at Triple A this season, though he’s recently been plagued by an old problem — walks. He has 28 of them in his last 32 innings.

Sandberg said Hamels tweaked his hamstring during a workout Tuesday. The pitcher will continue to be evaluated.

“That’s a possibility,” Sandberg said when asked if Hamels might avoid the disabled list and miss just one start.

The Phillies have to be cautious with Hamels. He is their best trade chip and could bring back valuable rebuilding blocks. With six weeks to go before the trade deadline, team officials can’t risk sending him to the mound and seeing a minor injury turn into a big one.

Efforts to speak with general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. about Hamels were unsuccessful.

The Phillies’ decision to select Aumont’s contract shows just how desperate this team is for pitching. The Phils tried to trade Aumont in spring training, but there were no takers. Any team could have had him after he was placed on waivers, but no team was willing to put him on their 40-man roster. Aumont could have asked for his release after clearing waivers, but chose to stay in the Phillies system. Now, he gets another shot. The 6-foot-7 right-hander still has power stuff, but he will need to throw strikes against the Cardinals.

The Phillies also need to add a pitcher for Sunday’s game to replace Jerome Williams, who strained a hamstring Monday night in Baltimore. Lefty Adam Morgan is a candidate for that start. He is on the 40-man roster. The rotation will receive some reinforcement when Chad Billingsley is ready to come off the disabled list. He is scheduled to make one more rehab outing at Triple A this weekend. He is recovering from a lat strain.

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