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Hammonds has swelling in his knee


ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Fleet Orioles outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds' pursuit of the American League Rookie of the Year award has run into another speed bump. Actually it's the same speed bump, otherwise known as a knee.

He is experiencing swelling in his right knee again.

His knee began swelling in the middle of Saturday's 4-3 loss to the California Angels, but he stayed in the game. He did not play in yesterday's 10-5 victory over the Angels.

"I'm hoping this one day off will help immensely," Hammonds said. "It's amazing what one day of treatment can do for you. I should be back in there [tonight]. I could have played today. I was available."

Hammonds, on the disabled list May 4 to June 16, has worn a knee brace every day since and has worn four different types, trying to find just the right fit.

The most recent type did not hold up well to sliding and, Hammonds said, contributed to the flare-up.

He has not tried going without any brace.

"The doctors say that would not be wise at this time," Hammonds said.

If it seems as if Hammonds hasn't been the same player after the injury as he was before it, that's because he hasn't been.

"It's still there," he said of the knee injury. "It's fine when I'm running straight ahead. It's when I have to twist and turn that I run into trouble."

Denied some of his explosiveness in the field and on the bases by the effects of the strained medial collateral ligament, Hammonds has not been as productive at the plate since returning from the injury either.

He was hitting .326 with four home runs and 14 RBIs in 23 games before going on the disabled list. In 24 games since coming off the disabled list, Hammonds is batting .247 with four home runs and 10 RBIs.

"When he really has to run, when he's stealing a base or running a ball down in the outfield, he can turn it on," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said. "There are times I can remember when he just flat-dab flew. Other times I've seen him limp. When he doesn't have to burn, it looks like he turns it down a little."

The Orioles play their next three games on artificial turf.

"That's a factor," Oates said. "We're going to sit down and discuss everything before I decide if he's in the lineup [tonight]. If it blows up, we'll sit him down and play somebody else."

Hammonds might play the outfield in turf shoes to ease the burden and hit in spikes.

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