Hammel dealing with knee issue, start pushed back (updated)
Pitcher Jason Hammel will have his next start pushed back, as the right-hander is dealing with right knee soreness that has progressively worsened his past two or three starts, although the 29-year-old said Wednesday’s he’s confident he can avoid the disabled list.
“I’m very confident about that,” said Hammel, who has been encouraged with how the area has responded the last few days with treatment. Hammel, who was originally scheduled to pitch on Thursday, had an MRI on the area which didn’t reveal anything surprising.
“There’s fluid and inflammation, other than that maybe an old injury that had been re-aggravated,” said Hammel, who had a similar injury on his left knee –which he had operated on after the 2008 season. “Nothing fancy. Other than that, just enough to [aggravate] my knee.”
There’s no timetable for Hammel right now, but losing him for any length of time is a serious blow to the Orioles pitching staff. Acquired in an offseason trade from the Colorado Rockies, Hammel has been the Orioles’ best starter and is 4-1 with a 2.01 ERA in six starts.
“Obviously, I’m not too happy about it,” Hammel said of missing Thursday’s start. “But it’s just the smartest thing to do for right now. I need to help this team down the road. Initially one start instead of trying to battle through it and it keep getting worse and worse, maybe something bigger would happen. We will see if we can get it controlled.”
“I think he’s had some experience with it,” manager Buck Showalter said of Hammel’ s knee injury. “It’s the first spring he said he didn’t have any problems with it at all.”
Pushing back Hammel, and Monday’s decision to option starter Tommy Hunter to Triple-A Norfolk, put the O’s rotation in a bind with no announced starters for Thursday or Friday and Showalter making it clear he wouldn’t take a reliever out of the bullpen. So, who are the options?
Lefty Dana Eveland was pulled from his start on Monday after 63 pitches, and he could make Thursday or Friday’s start, while Chris Tillman –who last threw 82 pitches for Norfolk on Sunday – is another candidate for one of those games. Brad Bergesen is scheduled to be the Tides’ starter on Thursday so he would be on regular rest, while Hunter is an option if there’s a DL situation since the 10-day required stay in the Minor Leagues rule wouldn’t apply if there’s an injury. Hunter started Sunday’s game in Boston, throwing 82 pitches.
Beyond Hammel, left fielder Endy Chavez –playing in place of the injure Nolan Reimold –has been dealing with an oblique issue that could force him to the DL. Although nothing has been decided, the Orioles’ decision to recall infielder Steve Tolleson from Triple-A –who has also played some left field –shows that the organization is at least considering that move. Rule 5 Draft pick Ryan Flaherty started in left field Wednesday night.