- Jayson Stark, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said Monday afternoon that Cole Hamels was officially out of the running for an opening-night start this Sunday against the Braves. Instead, he'll pitch in an exhibition game Saturday against Tampa Bay in Philadelphia.
Hamels threw 65 pitches in a minor league spring training game Monday and allowed 10 hits and three runs in four innings. He walked one and struck out five.
"He was fine," Dubee said. "I'm not looking at [how many] base hits he gave up or anything. His command is not there. That's for sure."
Dubee said he asked Hamels to throw more fastballs than he normally would and reported that his fastball was clocked at 85-88 miles per hour. In previous starts this spring, Hamels had raised concerns by topping out in the lower 80s.
"I was very encouraged because I asked him to throw more fastballs," Dubee said. "I'm really not concerned if they hit his fastball. I just want him to get his arm speed and get the feel of his delivery. He's got a ways to go, still. But he threw a lot more fastballs and threw at a lot better velocity."
Hamels -- who got an anti-inflammatory shot in the elbow two weeks ago -- is expected to get his pitch count up to about 85 pitches on Saturday. If all goes well, he could make his first start of the season in Colorado on April 10.
Asked if Hamels could get to where he needed to be with only one more exhibition start, Dubee replied: "Sure ... I think some of the command stuff will come [back] with better focus, when you get him in that [big league] environment. Right now, his body is fresh, and his arm is not quick yet."
Both Dubee and manager Charlie Manuel said the Phillies weren't ready to name Brett Myers as the Opening Day starter in Hamels' place. But Myers is scheduled to make his final spring training start Tuesday, which would put him on schedule to pitch Sunday night. However, Dubee said it was still possible Joe Blanton could pitch opening night. Blanton was Oakland's Opening Day starter last season.
Jayson Stark is a senior baseball writer for ESPN.com.
49mTony Lee, Special to ESPN.com