Hammel leaning toward right knee surgery
The Orioles are expected to place right-handed pitcher Jason Hammel on the disabled list on Sunday, with the 29-year-old saying following Saturday’s game that he is “leaning toward” surgery on his right knee that would likely sideline him until September.
“Honestly, I just want my knee to feel normal again,” said Hammel, who exited Friday’s start in the fourth inning and had an MRI on the area on Saturday. “So I’m kind of leaning toward surgery, but I haven’t made that decision yet.
“[The decision has] got to be soon because I don’t want to miss too much time. It’s a pretty simple procedure to go in there and just let it be scoped but like I said I could let it rest. And it could be fine that way, but it’d be better just to get it taken care of.”
Hammel said the MRI showed no further damage but the cartilage –which would be removed — has moved to an area that is right up against the joint and causing him discomfort every time his bends his knee. The loss of Hammel for any length of time is devastating for the Orioles and their already-shaky rotation. A Final Vote All-Star candidate Hammel has been the team’s best starter — entering Friday’s game 8-5 with a 3.47 ERA — and is one of two dependable rotation guys along with Wei-Yin Chen.
“I feel like I am letting the guys down if I miss starts,” said Hammel, who has been a pleasant surprise in his first season with Baltimore. “I want to be part of this. It’s tough because my body is letting me down right now and I feel so good. A lot of hard work to get where we are right now. It is what it is.
If something does happen [surgically], the other guys are going to step up. It’ll be an opportunity for somebody else. And as soon as I can come back and help the team I am going to do that.”
The Orioles’ leading candidate to take Hammel’s spot on Wednesday is lefty Brian Matusz, who is fresh off a complete-game shutout for Triple-A Norfolk. Matusz, who is scheduled to pitch Sunday for the Tides, went 5-10 with a 5.42 ERA in 16 Major League starts before being sent to the Minor Leagues.