Jason Hammel will be activated Thursday and start vs. Yankees

Both Buck Showalter and Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette have said that Jason Hammel's possible early-September return from knee surgery would make essentially the same impact of a late-season trade.

And after Hammel threw a late-afternoon bullpen session Tuesday, Showalter said the Orioles' ace will be activated from the disabled list before Thursday's game and start in that nightagainst the Yankees at Camden Yards.

There was some question whether the right-hander, who had arthroscopic right-knee surgery in mid-May, would be activated this week or need one more minor league rehab start.

"He's physically fine," Showalter said."It's not a medical thing any more. They signed off on that. He's physically ready to go. Just wanted to get a work day in and make sure there's no swelling."

So Hammel will fly back to Baltimore on Wednesday afternoon to get a good night's sleep before pitching in the series opener against New York.

Hammel, who pitched five scoreless innings in a rehab start for Class-A Frederick on Saturday, hasn't pitched in a major league game since July 13. He will likely be limited to six or seven innings.