Cole Hamels says his shoulder feels fine

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Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. revealed earlier this month that Cole Hamels felt some shoulder soreness down the stretch last season and again when he ramped up his offseason throwing program, but he also downplayed any long-term concerns. While Hamels was similarly unconcerned about the situation in speaking to reporters before the annual Philadelphia Sportswriters Banquet tonight, he had a slightly different account of how things went down.

According to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, Hamels confirmed that he felt some soreness in September, but he dismissed it as normal wear and tear and wasn’t alarmed. However, where the two stories differ is that Hamels denied encountering any soreness this offseason. It’s hard to believe that Amaro could be so wrong about something he was so specific about, but the good news for Phillies fans is that Hamels feels fine now and is ready to go for spring training.

Hamels, 29, posted a 3.05 ERA and 216/52 K/BB ratio over 215 1/3 innings in 2012. He signed a six-year, $144 million extension with the Phillies last July.

Ian Kinsler lists the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central

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Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.

Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list

Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.

Angels demote C.J. Cron to Triple-A

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Angels first baseman C.J. Cron hit a grand slam against the Mets on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to keep his spot on the major league roster as the club announced his demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday. Infielder Nolan Fantana has been promoted from Salt Lake.

Cron, 27, was hitting a disappointing .232/.281/.305 with one home run and RBI in 90 plate appearances. I guess you can say that wasn’t the kind of Cron job the Angels were expecting. Cron was an above-average hitter in each of his first three seasons, finishing with an OPS+, or adjusted OPS, of 111, 106, and 115 (100 is average).

While Cron is figuring things out in the minors, Luis Valbuena, Jefry Marte, and Albert Pujols could each see some time at first base.