Cole Hamels called this a big week, and Wednesday represented another step forward for him.

Hamels threw 40-plus pitches in a bullpen session in the morning at Bright House Field. If he feels OK on Thursday, he is expected to throw to hitters in a live batting practice session Saturday. Hamels expects to throw one more live BP after that before potentially pitching in a game.

"It went really well," Hamels said of his bullpen session. "I'm pleased, being able to build my pitch count, getting the reps I need. I was able to get a lot of pitches out of the stretch, and I introduced the windup, which I haven't done since last year. Getting familiar with that again and being able to build the reps from there, it's obviously a step in the right direction."

Hamels is weeks behind schedule and will open the season on the disabled list. He suffered inflammation in his left shoulder in November, which halted his normal offseason throwing and strengthening programs. He appeared to be recovering nicely earlier this month before suffering a setback, saying his arm felt fatigued.