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Cole Hamels to get a late start to spring training due to shoulder irritation

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One of the key offseason moves for the Atlanta Braves was to bring in starter Cole Hamels on a one-year, $18 million deal to solidify the rotation. It’ll be a bit before the solidifying process begins, however. The team announced today that he has experienced shoulder irritation this winter and will get a late start to spring training.

How late? The team says he’ll be reevaluated in three weeks. Even if he’s 100% ready to go then that’s a pretty big chunk of spring out the window for Hamels, which means he’d be unlikely to break camp with the team even under the best case scenario.

Hamels went 7-7 with a 3.81 ERA in 27 starts for the Cubs in 2019, striking out 143 and walking 56 in 141.2 innings. It was a tale of two seasons, though, really. Hamels posted a 2.98 ERA in 17 starts before he strained his oblique near the end of June, after which he also suffered from shoulder fatigue. When he came back he had a 5.79 ERA in 10 starts.

The hope on the part of the Braves, obviously, was that the shoulder fatigue was a short-term thing, at worst born of over-compensation for the oblique or something. Given that he had soreness in it this winter, however, there is likely some amount of concern down in Atlanta.

Rumor: MLB execs discussing 100-game season that would begin July 1

David Price and Mookie Betts
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Matt Spiegel of 670 The Score Chicago heard from a source that Major League Baseball executives have been discussing a 100-game season that would begin on July 1 and conclude on October 15. It would essentially pick up the second half schedule, eliminating the All-Star Game while hosting the World Series at a neutral warm-weather stadium — ideally Dodger Stadium.

In the event the Dodgers, who won 106 games last year, made it all the way through the playoffs, the World Series would be hosted in Anaheim or San Diego. The earlier rounds of the playoffs would be played in the cities of the teams involved, which might be tough since the postseason would extend into November.

Spiegel went on to describe this vision as “an absolute best case scenario,” and that’s accurate. In order for the regular season to begin on July 1, the players would need to have several weeks if not a full month prior to get back into playing shape — more or less an abbreviated second spring training. And that would mean the U.S. having made significant progress against the virus by way of herd immunity or a vaccine, which would allow for nonessential businesses to resume operations. The U.S., sadly, is faring not so well compared to other nations around the world for a variety of reasons, but all of which point to a return to normalcy by the summer seeming rather unlikely.

Regardless, the league does have to plan for the potential of being able to start the regular season this summer just in case things really do break right and offer that opportunity. Commissioner Rob Manfred has stated multiple times about the league’s need to be creative, referring to ideas like playing deep into the fall, changing up the location of games, playing without fans in attendance, etc. This rumor certainly fits the “creative” mold.