Rangers scratch lefty Cole Hamels with neck stiffness

Cole Hamels #35 of the Texas Rangers works the first inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Globe Life Park in Arlington on May 5, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

CHICAGO (AP) - The Texas Rangers scratched left-hander Cole Hamels from Thursday's start against the Chicago White Sox due to neck stiffness.

Hamels said he woke up Wednesday with a stiff neck and it kept getting worse. He could barely sit on the Rangers' plane ride from Seattle to Chicago.

"Sometimes in hotels it happens, I guess," he said. "Everything comes down to timing. If this happened the day after we could get through it and get to the next game. Something that happens right before your start, there's not enough time to be able to get right and go out there and give your team six, seven innings and a hundred pitches without something really disastrous happening."

Doug Fister moved up one day to pitch the series opener against the White Sox on regular rest. The veteran right-hander tossed 6 1/3 innings in Saturday's 6-1 loss at Houston, yielding three runs and four hits.

Asked about the possibilities for Friday's starter, Rangers manager Jeff Banister mentioned Hamels, Matt Moore and Austin Bibens-Dirkx at Triple-A Round Rock. But Hamels said he thinks he will need more time for his neck to loosen up.

"We'll play catch today to see how it feels, and tomorrow, but I think like anything you do want to be at your best," he said. "At times we do pitch through some bumps and bruises, and I did think about how far I could push it. But when you notice you cannot look at a target when you throw a baseball, it's not good."

The 34-year-old Hamels is 2-4 with a 3.48 ERA in nine starts this season. He pitched six sparkling innings in a 1-0 victory against the Astros last Friday.

Moore is scheduled to pitch on Saturday, but he also would be on regular rest if he pitches on Friday. The Rangers were off on Monday.


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