The big news coming out of Buck Showalter's press briefing today in Arlington is that designated hitter Jim Thome is ahead of schedule and will head down to Sarasota, Fla., on Wednesday to begin rehab.

Thome, who hasn't played since July 27 due to a herniated disk in his neck, was initially told by doctors that he needed to rest for 30 days, meaning he wouldn't be able to begin any baseball activities until September.


"That was as much to slow him down," Showalter said of the initial 30-day prognosis. "He still has got some bulging disk there, but the inflammation has calmed down so he is going to go down [to Sarasota] and, in the next three or four days, if he doesn't have any problems, I'm going to feel pretty confident about getting him back."

Showalter said the 41-year-old Thome will be able to swing a bat and hit off a tee and could get some game-type action in Sarasota. Although no timetable is set, Thome could go on a minor-league rehab assignment to one of the Orioles' upper affiliates in August.

"He's feeling good. He talked to the doctor and he is a little ahead of schedule. We'll see how the next couple days go," Showalter said "Let's take it day-to-day, I don't want him to think about going to Aberdeen or Frederick. If we did it, it would be at a high level."

Thome hit .261 with two homers in 18 games for the Orioles after being acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies for two minor leaguers on June 30.

The news wasn't as good concerning lefty Troy Patton, who has a right ankle sprain that forced him to the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Aug. 13. Showalter said athletic trainer Richie Bancells does not believe Patton will be ready Aug. 28, the day he is eligible to come off the DL.

"Talking to Richie, right now it is pretty iffy if Patton makes the DL time," Showalter said. "He is still pretty sore and swollen."

In other injury news, Jason Hammel hopes to take fielding practice off a mound Tuesday – the first time he has done that since his knee surgery. And Wilson Betemit (right wrist) will begin swinging a bat in the next few days.

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