Cole Hamels throws live batting practice

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Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels took an important step this morning in his return from shoulder tendinitis, as Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that he threw two innings of live batting practice to hitters. It was his first time facing live hitters this spring.

Hamels, who was behind schedule at the start of camp and had a setback earlier this month, declared that he felt “great” during today’s session. The Phillies will likely see how he feels tomorrow before deciding when he’ll throw next, but it’s good news for a team that really needs it right now.

Hamels will begin the year on the disabled list, but he has a chance to join Philadelphia’s starting rotation by the end of April if all goes well.

Blue Jays place Aaron Sanchez on 10-day disabled list

Toronto Blue Jays v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
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The Blue Jays placed right-hander Aaron Sanchez on the 10-day disabled list with a contusion in his right index finger, per a team announcement on Saturday. The assignment is retroactive to Friday. In a corresponding move, righty Marcus Stroman was activated from the DL (right shoulder fatigue) and will take the mound for the Blue Jays at 9:07 PM ET tonight.

Sanchez, 25, is in his fifth season with the club. He hasn’t looked his sharpest so far this year, going 3-5 in 15 starts with a career-worst 4.52 ERA, 5.1 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 through 79 2/3 innings. It’s not yet clear how long he’ll be sidelined, though he could miss as little as one turn in the rotation before returning to the roster in the next week or two.

Sanchez isn’t the only struggling starter in Toronto’s rotation, either. Per MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm, the team placed southpaw Jaime Garcia on the DL (right shoulder tenderness) as well, with lefty reliever Tim Mayza scheduled to take his spot on the roster. In 13 starts this season, Garcia carried a 2-6 record, 6.16 ERA, 4.5 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 61 1/3 innings. Any further decisions pertaining to the rotation — including Tuesday’s starter against the Astros — have yet to be publicly addressed.