Orioles right-hander Jason Hammel, shelved twice in the second half of last season because of injuries to his right knee, said he has no restrictions on the joint after having a check-up with team doctors Friday.
Hammel missed nearly eight weeks after arthroscopic surgery on his knee in mid-July, only to re-injure the joint in his second start since coming off the disabled list Sept. 11.
The 30-year-old was able to return to start Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Yankees, but said then that rest would be the only way his knee would get healthy.
“I feel 100 percent right now,” Hammel said Friday night at the premiere of 'The BUCKle Up Birds,' a movie about the 2012 season. “I’m very optimistic. I was a little scared at the end of the season because things were still stiff. Finally I was able to rest. I think that was the big key. You can’t really heal if you don’t have time to rest. It took about two weeks for any kind of swelling and fluid to subside and then it was a slow gradual building into the lifting process and now I’m doing normal workouts like I was doing before the injury.”
Hammel, acquired last February from the Rockies as part of the trade that sent Jeremy Guthrie to Colorado, started the season 8-2 and quickly emerged as the Orioles' ace. He took a no-hit bid into the eighth inning in his first Orioles start April 8 and then took another no-hitter into the seventh against Atlanta on June 16.
He pitched through pain in his knee since May late, but it began to affect his mechanics and he underwent surgery in July.
Hammel is also one of three Orioles players – relievers Jim Johnson and Darren O’Day are the others – who exchanged arbitration figures Friday. The sides are rather far apart, with Hammel filing for $8.25 million and the Orioles offering $5.7 million.
Hammel is in his final season of arbitration eligibility and he becomes a free agent at the end of the 2013 season.
“I want to play here,” Hammel said. “That’s for the agents and Dan to figure out. I’m not even paying attention to it really. It’s just a part of the process, the business side of baseball. I wouldn’t think it would drag on at all. Obviously I want to play here. I want to play here for a long time. The quicker we can get it done, the quicker I can focus on baseball.”