Phils to put Hamels on throwing plan

Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels spent part of Tuesday hearing some good news: An examination revealed his pitching elbow had no structural damage, only inflammation.

Now, the not-so-good news: Philadelphia pitching coach Rich Dubee believes Hamels probably won't be ready to pitch on Opening Day at home against Atlanta.

"I don't know that it's out of the question, but I think it would be a long shot," Dubee said Tuesday, "just because we've got to get him up and running again. We've got to stretch him out ... he's only up to about 52 or 54 pitches. We like our guys if they're gonna pitch [at the start of the regular season] to be up to 100 pitches [by the end of camp].

"But I don't know. This guy has always risen to the occasion."

Hamels received a shot of anti-inflammatory medication on Tuesday in Philadelphia. He was scheduled to rejoin the team later Tuesday, and the staff ace plans to restart his throwing program within two days.

"I can't really speculate on when he'll be pitching on the mound. ... I felt pretty confident it wasn't going to be anything more serious, but it is Cole Hamels," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Tuesday. "Overall, it's pretty good news."

According to Dubee, the Phillies hope Hamels -- who did not miss a start last season and was the World Series MVP -- can throw off a mound Thursday in a bullpen session, play long toss Friday and have another bullpen session Saturday.

"We haven't ruled him out pitching in a game next Monday or Tuesday, but we'll have to see," Dubee said. "If he is delayed -- Brad Lidge was delayed last year -- so it's not the end of the world. ... If we have him for 150 games as opposed to 162, we'll take those 150 games and 30 starts or whatever it is."

Dubee would not speculate on who would start for the Phillies on April 5, a night game, against the Braves, if Hamels isn't ready to go.

The 25-year-old Hamels made his first Grapefruit League start last Wednesday. He pitched in an intrasquad game Sunday and didn't report any pain during four innings. Hamels has felt tightness in his elbow between innings and after he's finished pitching for the day.

"I was able to throw yesterday," Hamels said Monday. "It's just been that kind of mild discomfort, something I don't want to have to deal with during the season."

Hamels is 38-23 with a 3.43 ERA in 84 big league games. The 17th overall pick in the 2002 amateur draft, Hamels finished 14-10 with a 3.09 ERA in a career-high 33 starts in 2008.

Jayson Stark is an ESPN.com senior writer and Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.