What the Orioles don’t need right now, especially after losing right fielder Nick Markakis (broken left thumb) for the rest of the regular season, is another injury.
That’s what they’ve got, though, and it’s to another key contributor.
Right-handed starter Jason Hammel, who returned Thursday after missing nearly eight weeks due to right knee surgery, left in Tuesday’s fourth inning with a right knee injury.
Not only is it the same knee, it’s the same pain, Hammel said.
“It feels exactly the same as it did in the game against Detroit [on July 13, his last start before the surgery],” Hammel said. “It was just one pitch and then after that pitch, I couldn’t load on the leg again when I tried to transfer the weight toward the plate. It’s a very sharp pain in the knee in the same spot, so I really don’t know what to say.”
What he said is that he will see club orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens on Wednesday, and Hammel has asked for a MRI to determine what might be going on. The original surgery in July was to remove loose cartilage in the knee. Now, he is hoping that the pain is being caused by scar tissue irritating the same area.
“I thought we had cleaned it up and it’s more of a kind of wait and see how it feels tomorrow now. I’m hoping it is just scar tissue,” Hammel said. “I’ve been told scar tissue can react like that. But it’s frustrating because it felt exactly the same. But right now there are positive signs. There’s no swelling, which is good. But for it to feel exactly the same, I want to know what the hell is going on.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he wasn’t hit with a sense of doom when he saw Hammel’s leg buckle. There was too much going on.
"At that time, we're trying to win the baseball game and let the smoke settle a little bit. We've been down this road many times this year with a lot of different challenges. The competition's enough,” Showalter said. “We operated a good portion of the season without Hamm and Nicky, so we're kind of experienced at it, anyway. It's not the kind of experience you want to have.”
The toughest part for Hammel is that he felt no pain, no irritation, nothing at all when he pitched against New York last week. He was told surgery should alleviate the pain – and it did, completely, until a pitch to Evan Longoria in the fourth. A few throws later, he was out of the game and his season, again, is in doubt.
“It was gone. It was gone. I had no reservation on the mound,” Hammel said. “I was letting it go and I wasn’t thinking about it at all and then, for it to pop up like that, obviously it’s, I guess, scary. Because I thought we had it figured out. Now it’s back to the drawing board.”