Phillies LHP Hamels throws off mound

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CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) -- Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels threw off the mound for the first time this spring on Wednesday morning, an important step in his eventual return to the rotation.

Hamels made his first career opening day start in 2013. He entered camp behind schedule this year after battling biceps soreness in November, and said he wouldn't be ready for the assignment this season.

Although the Phillies expect Hamels to be ready at some point in April, they are not going to push him in an effort to get him to the mound on opening day or the first week of the season.

Manager Ryne Sandberg says he was encouraged by Hamels' 35-pitch side session.