Hamels, Papelbon feel pain of Lee's injury

Phillies veterans acknowledge importance of lefty's presence to club's goal of competing

Hamels, Papelbon feel pain of Lee's injury

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon figure to be the most likely Phillies veterans to be traded in the coming weeks or months.

But until they are traded -- if they are traded at all -- they have tried to remain positive publicly about the team's chances to compete in 2015. Both pitched in Wednesday's 3-2 victory over the Pirates at Bright House Field. Hamels allowed two hits, two runs, two walks and struck out one in three innings, while Papelbon threw a perfect fourth.

Both spoke afterward about the tear in Cliff Lee's left elbow, which could end his season and possibly career. Losing Lee for the season obviously puts a major hole in the rotation and significantly weakens the team's already difficult chances to compete.

Lee discusses bullpen session

"It sucks, man," Papelbon said. "Everybody in this clubhouse knows what kind of great competitor he is and the knowledge of the game he can pass on to some of these young kids in this clubhouse. I don't know. It's kind of hard to put into words. It really sucks."

If Lee cannot pitch -- he is trying to pitch through the discomfort -- it leaves Hamels, Aaron Harang, Jerome Williams and David Buchanan as the team's first four starters. The fifth spot could go to Kevin Slowey or Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.

"He's one piece of the puzzle and obviously a big piece for us," Papelbon said. "Somebody is going to have to step up."

Said Hamels: "He's a big part of our team. It's unfortunate. I know we have a lot to work on as a team, and I think that's why we're down here, to come together and set goals every day and try to execute the play that we're striving for and the image that we want to have."

Hamels K's Morton

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