Jason Hammel has made the decision to have surgery on his right knee and likely will be out at least a month.
Hammel, the Orioles top starter who is 8-6 with a 3.54 ERA in 18 starts, is expected to have the surgery Monday morning. Orioles orthopedist John Wilckens will do the arthroscopic surgery, which will remove cartilage that has been embedded in a knee joint.
“We’re going to go the surgery route,” said Hammel, who has dealt with knee discomfort for two months, but was forced out of Friday’s start in the fourth inning due to significant knee pain. “Obviously, it is not what I want to do, but it is what needs to be done. I can’t keep pitching on a bad leg and start doing things with my arm and hurting things there. Obviously, bummed out. But it’s going to be a pretty routine surgery, figure a few weeks, maybe four weeks, hopeful for the return. That’ll get me back in time to still be able to help the club.”
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Hammel is hopeful he can be back in three to four weeks, but Orioles manager Buck Showalter said it’s difficult to adhere to a timetable until the doctors perform surgery. Showalter is hoping Hammel will be back by September – and if he gets back earlier, that would be a bonus.
“I think it is smart for me, personally, to plan that way, than if you get your birthday present early … I’d rather look at the worst case,” Showalter said. “I think I’ll have a better feel for it when Dr. Wilckens gets out of there and (reports) what he found.”
Hammel was placed on the disabled list and the Orioles recalled St. Paul’s graduate Steve Johnson, who was promoted earlier this month but did not pitch in a game. He will be used in the bullpen for now.
In other Orioles news, Showalter said Zach Britton will make Tuesday’s start at Minnesota. Britton was sidelined at the beginning of the season with a left shoulder injury. He’ll be making his 2012 Orioles’ debut.
Brian Matusz, however, is not expected to start for the Orioles on Wednesday – which is Hammel’s slot. Matusz is slated to make his second start tonight for the Tides, and Showalter said he thinks Matusz needs to stay in Triple-A and continue to pitch well after being demoted by the Orioles on July 1.
Tommy Hunter would be on regular rest Wednesday at Norfolk, so he could get the call to pitch against Minnesota. Johnson and Miguel Socolovich also could be candidates.
Reliever Stu Pomeranz (torn oblique) was having some back issues and therefore did not start his rehab assignment on Sunday in Sarasota. It has been pushed back a couple days.
Here’s lineups for Sunday:
Orioles: Markakis 9, Hardy 6, Thome DH, Jones 8, Davis 7, Betemit 5, Reynolds 3, Teagarden 2, Andino 4. Gonzalez 1.
Tigers: Jackson 8, Berry 7, Cabrera 5, Fielder 3, Boesch DH, Peralta 6, Avila 2, Santiago 4, Kelly 9. Verlander 1.