Orioles right-hander Jason Hammel threw five shutout innings in a minor league rehab assignment start at advanced Class-A Frederick on Saturday night.
Hammel, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in mid-July, held the Carolina Mudcats to three hits, all singles, while striking out seven and walking one. He threw 66 pitches (47 strikes), just under his 70-pitch limit.
This was Hammel’s first post-surgery outing in a live game -- he had thrown two previous simulated games. Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette was at the game watching Hammel pitch. If the Orioles think Hammel is ready to be activated off the 15-day disabled list, he would likely make his first start Thursday against the New York Yankees at Camden Yards.
"Jason threw all his pitches for strikes and looked comfortable," Duquette said by text message. "[He] finished up his work in [the] 'pen."
Hammel could also make one more rehab start, this one for Double-A Bowie, which is in the Eastern League playoffs.
“[We] just kind of want to see how he feels physically,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said earlier today. “If he’s not favoring [the knee] at all. I think the last hurdle is the mental part of it and not thinking about it. I don’t care how many sim games [he gets], it’s good to get in the game environment like that.”
Regardless, Hammel will join the Orioles in Toronto this week to throw a bullpen session.
Hammel, acquired from the Rockies this offseason as part of the trade that sent Jeremy Guthrie to Colorado, emerged as the Orioles ace this season. He is 8-6 with a 3.54 ERA in 18 starts, allowing 97 hits and striking out 106 in 109 1/3 innings pitched.