Orioles' Jason Hammel will be challenged to make it back by DL date

Discomfort in Jason Hammel's right forearm has keep him from pitching since a loss to the Red Sox on July 28.
Discomfort in Jason Hammel's right forearm has keep him from pitching since a loss to the Red Sox on July 28. (Algerina Perna, Baltimore Sun)

SAN DIEGO – Orioles right-hander Jason Hammel — on the disabled list with a right flexor mass strain — felt discomfort during a throwing session Tuesday, which puts his chances of being ready when he's eligible to return from the DL on Tuesday in doubt.

"It's improved slightly, so it's improving, but obviously not as quickly as we want," Hammel said Wednesday. "It was a slight improvement, but it was disappointing that it didn't heal after a week of not throwing."

Hammel, who said he threw from about 80-90 feet Tuesday, said he will try to throw again Friday. Hammel said he is in the fourth day of a five-day medication program, so his throwing session Friday should be more telling.

"I can't predict the future, but as of right now, it doesn't look too good," Hammel said of coming off the DL on Tuesday.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he'd also like to get Hammel a minor league rehab start before activating him from the DL.

"I don't think that's moving at a real fast clip," Showalter said. "We were hoping yesterday that he'd throw and want to go to the next step. It's not bad, it's just that it's not completely gone. Some of it is still lingering. It makes me feel better about DLing him in the first place. [Tuesday] was kind of iffy."

The Orioles placed Hammel on the disabled list July 31 — a move that was retroactive to July 29 — after he complained of tightness in his forearm after his previous start. The move corresponded with the Orioles' acquisition of right-hander Bud Norris in a trade with the Houston Astros. A MRI performed on Hammel on Friday showed just inflammation and no structural damage to his elbow.

But with Norris now in the rotation, the Orioles don't need to rush to activate Hammel.

"We're trying to get rid of that feeling before I get back onto the mound," Hammel said.

Said Showatler: "We're trying to resolve it all. Whether we needed him today or tomorrow had nothing to do with it. This needs to get resolved for him to pitch the way we need him to pitch for the rest of the year. We have a lot of games left."

Betemit's biggest obstacle mental

There's still no timetable for the return of designated hitter Wilson Betemit from a Grade 2/3 PCL sprain in his right knee suffered in spring training. But Betemit played in his second minor league rehabilitation game with the Gulf Coast League Orioles on Wednesday, going 0-for-2 with a strikeout.

Showalter said Orioles player development director Brian Graham, down in Sarasota, Fla., to watch other minor leaguers, said that Betemit appeared to still be running tentatively.

"He lost a lot of [muscles], some atrophy from being dormant or whatever with that leg," Showalter said. "I think it's kind of like a fawn trying to get your legs back under you. I think that's where he's kind of tentative. All of a sudden you're running around the bases and you hit a double, I think it's getting through the mental [aspect] more. The last time he ran the bases in a game, it wasn't good.

"I'd really like to see, just for Wilson the human being, [him] back and feeling good about himself physically before the year is over, regardless of what it means for us." Showalter added. "He's been through a lot."

Around the horn

Chris Davis is hitting .488 (20-for-41) in interleague play this season with nine games against National League competition remaining. Kansas City's Joe Randa is the only player to ever hit over .500 in interleague play in a season (1999). … J.J. Hardy's 71 homers since the start of the 2011 season are the most of any major league shortstop in that span. … Adam Jones and Manny Machado both have 74 hits on the road this season, tied for more in the American League. … Showalter was impressed with the report on left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada's start Tuesday for Triple-A Norfolk. Wada threw five shutout innings, and Showalter said the reports on his velocity and all of his pitches are promising.

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