Texas Rangers left-hander Cole Hamels saw no reason to try and pitch through neck stiffness for his scheduled start against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.
Hamels felt his neck tighten up during a catch-and-stretch session Wednesday in Seattle, and felt it’d be in the best interest of the team to push his start back.
"It just grabbed on me in the middle of playing catch," Hamels said. "When something like that grabs, I can definitely feel that I couldn’t keep my head up to follow the target when I released the ball. Then I noticed my arm angle was dropping just to try to get through the catch session. It just kept getting tighter and tighter."
Right-hander Doug Fister got the nod on Thursday, as an off day Monday kept him on regular rest. Left-hander Matt Moore will start Friday.
Hamels would likely start Saturday, unless his neck requires more time. Manager Jeff Banister said the team has options beyond that, too, such as calling up Austin Bibens-Drikx from Triple A Round Rock if needed. But Hamels made it clear that he didn't think he'd be ready to go by Friday.
"I don’t think tomorrow will be good enough. I still think it’s within that 48 hours," Hamels said. "I think I’d be more comfortable with the 72 hours. We’ll play catch today and see how it feels and tomorrow. You want to be at your best.
"At times, we do pitch through some bumps and bruises, and I did think about it when I was talking – how far can I push it? But when you notice it, you cannot look at the target when you throw a baseball. It’s not good. When your arm angle drops, there’s going to be a lot that can transpire off a mound."
Hamels, 34, has never dealt with this type of neck stiffness so close to a scheduled start, but at least informed the Rangers of his situation early on.
Fister had enough notice to get ready for Thursday’s game, and Moore knows he could be called upon Friday.
Hamels is 2-4 with a 3.48 ERA in nine starts this season. Fister is 1-4 with a 4.06 ERA in seven starts.