Cole Hamels to join Phillies’ rotation next Wednesday

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Cole Hamels looked great in his most recent minor league rehab start Thursday with High-A Clearwater and Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that they are leaning toward bringing him back to start next Wednesday against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

Hamels was forced to begin the season on the 15-day disabled list due to left biceps tendinitis, but he showed no ill effects during his rehab stint, putting up a 2.12 ERA and 12/1 K/BB ratio in 17 innings over three starts. He tossed seven innings of one-run ball on Thursday.

Hamels, 30, posted a 3.60 ERA and 202/50 K/BB ratio over 220 innings last season. With Hamels, Cliff Lee, and A.J. Burnett, Philadelphia has a potent trio at the top of their rotation.

UPDATE: It’s official. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that Hamels is confirmed to pitch next Wednesday.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.