Cole Hamels rejoined the Texas Rangers at Safeco Field on Friday even though the left-hander won’t be able to rejoin the starting rotation for at least two months.
As he said Saturday, it’s going to be a long two months as he recovers from a strained right oblique muscle.
The injury is so fresh — he felt discomfort Tuesday while warming up for a start at Houston — that is isn’t doing anything close to his normal workload. But he prefers being around the Rangers’ training staff and is willing to do whatever he can to help his teammates during his recovery.
“Anytime you have an injury, it’s just one of those things you have to accept and then get the right game plan to get back out on the field and be at the same level as before the injury,” Hamels said.
“This is unfamiliar territory just because I do like to do different things and stay active. It’s more going to be a mental grind than anything. I’m going to have to start filling my time with some other activities.”
It’s just one of those things you have to accept and then get the right game plan to get back out on the field and be at the same level as before the injury.
Hamels said that he won’t return at anything less than 100 percent no matter how long it takes to get there. For now, he’s only doing strengthening exercises and is bothered by any quick, explosive movements.
The injury could be difficult for the Rangers to endure as they attempt to win the American League West for the third straight season, and will likely have an impact on his future with the Rangers.
They inherited a club option for 2019 on the remainder of the six-year, $144 million contract that came with Hamels from Philadelphia in 2015. The club option is $20 million and would vest automatically and increase to $24 million if Hamels logs 400 innings in 2017 and 2018. He must pitch 200 innings in 2018 and not be on the DL at the end of the season with an arm injury.
He won’t come close to 200 innings this season and would need more than 250 innings in 2018 to reached a combined 400. Hamels has logged 32 2/3 innings this season in five starts.
The Rangers could exercise the option or pay a $6 million buyout and let Hamels become a free agent.
Cole Hamels’ streak of seven consecutive 200-inning seasons is the longest active streak in the majors, but it will end this season.
He wasn’t asked about the contract implications created by his injury, but he said that the hardest part of the injury will be seeing the end of a streak of seven straight seasons with 200 innings that made the vesting of the option seem like a forgone conclusion.
“I take a lot of pride in being able to be that type of player,” said Hamels, who is on the disabled list for the fifth time in his career. “I know in life and especially in sports things are not always easy. The unexpected can always happen, but I was always confident that I could go out there and be accountable.”