A familiar face returned to the Orioles clubhouse Saturday afternoon.
After spending more than three weeks recovering from right knee surgery, right-hander Jason Hammel returned and threw off an incline during batting practice. The 29-year-old is on track to return to the rotation in September.
“It’s just the range of motion isn’t quite fully there and [I’m] just dealing with strengthening it,” Hammel said. “So it’s coming along.”
Hammel has done light running drills to test his knee and has felt significant improvement the past three days. He said he still hasn’t heard whether he’ll remain in Baltimore to continue his rehab or head to Sarasota, Fla., before embarking on a minor league rehab assignment.
But he was clearly excited to be back.
“It feels like the first day of school again,” said Hammel, who was 8-6 with a 3.54 ERA before having loose cartilage surgically removed from his right knee in mid-July. “I’ve missed the guys, and it’s good to be back.”
Around the horn
Catcher Matt Wieters is expected to play in the field in the Orioles’ series finale against the Royals on Sunday. Showalter said he still hasn’t decided whether to give him the full day off or to use him as the designated hitter. … Rookie utility man Ryan Flaherty (bacterial infection) is scheduled to report to Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday for a rehab assignment. … Orioles hitting coach Jim Presley is slated to return to the team Tuesday. He is in his hometown of Pensacola, Fla., attending his father’s funeral, which is Monday.