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03/23/09 7:58 PM ET

Hamels' debut may come April 10

Phillies ace lefty to pitch in Minor League game Tuesday

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- If everything goes well, Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels could start the fourth game of the regular season, April 10 against the Rockies in Denver.

Hamels starts in a Minor League Spring Training game Tuesday at the Carpenter Complex. It's his first start since he received an anti-inflammatory injection in his left elbow last Tuesday.

Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said Hamels will need at least two more starts after Tuesday before he can pitch in the big leagues, which means he almost definitely will not be ready to pitch in the season opener April 5.

If everything goes well Tuesday, Hamels would pitch in a Grapefruit League game Sunday against the Red Sox at Bright House Field.

Hamels then would start during the exhibition series against the Rays at Citizens Bank Park on April 3-4.

"There's a good chance he won't pitch Opening Day," Dubee said. "It's a very, very, very small shot, if at all. But saying that isn't saying he can't pitch the fourth game of the season and not miss a start."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.