That injury can be a precursor to problems — and possibly a tear — in the elbow ligament, similar to what top prospect Dylan Bundy experienced earlier this season before having surgery. But a MRI of Hammel’s right arm Friday showed just inflammation near the ulnar nerve and no structural damage to the elbow.
“We’ve got to calm that area down,” said Hammel, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday when the Orioles traded for Bud Norris. “My arm’s a little stiff, and I wouldn’t call it tendinitis or anything, but it was inflammation. But it came back about as good as it could have been.”
The important thing for Hammel is that this appears to be a minor setback and nothing that could impact the rest of his season.
“Yeah, that’s what was in the back of [my] mind, too,” Hammel said. “Obviously, it was a little scary; I’ve never had arm trouble, so it’s nice to know that it was something that maybe [takes] just a few days to fix.”
Hammel is taking anti-inflammatory medication and won’t throw for another two or three days while waiting for the swelling to subside. Then he’ll play catch and see how it feels. He expects to go with the team on the upcoming trip to the West Coast and work with pitching coach Rick Adair when he’s ready.
At this point, Hammel and Orioles manager Buck Showalter are still hoping the right-hander can return by Aug. 13, the first day he can come off the disabled list.
“They thought it was what it turned out to be, but [we] just want to be on the safe side, continue with the treatments, and I think it’s the 13th that he’s eligible,” Showalter said. “I look forward to him rejoining us then.”
When he comes back, Hammel, the club’s Opening Day starter who was 7-8 with a 5.20 ERA in 21 games, may not have a spot in the rotation following the addition of Norris. It’s possible Hammel could end up in the bullpen for the first time since he was with the Colorado Rockies in 2011.
But the Orioles and Hammel aren’t worrying about that yet — they just want him back healthy, and potentially, pitching with similar success to the first half of the 2012 season.
Hardy not in starting lineup
For the first time in 111 games this season, shortstop J.J. Hardy was not in the starting lineup as the Orioles played Seattle on Saturday night.
It’s the first time since Aug. 20, 2012 on the road against the Texas Rangers that Hardy hasn’t started, snapping a streak of 150 straight starts. Hardy had played 971 1/3 innings at shortstop this season, the most of any player in the major leagues at the position.
Showalter had been searching for opportunities to give players days off in the final two months of the season. Hardy, third baseman Manny Machado and center fielder Adam Jones have played in every game this season, and first baseman Chris Davis has played in all but one.
“I don’t think I’m any worse than anyone else on this team that have been grinding through it,” Hardy said. “I’m able to play, could play. I think it’s just, we’re all a little bit exhausted from the grind. I wouldn’t say [I’m] any worse than anyone else in this clubhouse.”
Hardy said he had been thinking about the possibility of starting all 162 games in the season before Saturday. The 30-year-old’s career high for games played was 158 last season, and he also played 151 for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007.
“I’d never done it before,” Hardy said. “One hundred sixty-one’s not bad. That’s the new goal. Still could play 162, but not start 162. I guess we’ll look at 161.”
With Hardy not starting the game, it also snaps a streak of 150 straight games started by Hardy and Machado on the left side of the infield, the fourth-longest streak since 1946. The longest streak since then was 221 starts by Willie “Puddin’ Head” Jones and Granny Hamner for the Philadelphia Phillies from Aug. 16, 1949 to May 8, 1951.
Around the horn
Davis is the first player in history to have 40 home runs and 30 doubles through Aug. 2. Ken Griffey Jr. reached those marks on Aug. 18, 1997. … Left-hander Wei-Yin Chen is scheduled to make his fourth career start against the Mariners on Sunday. He’s 3-0 with a 1.29 in 21 innings in his previous three starts against Seattle. … Infielder Jonathan Schoop hit a go-ahead two-run home run in the 15th inning of Triple-A Norfolk’s 5-2 victory at Pawtucket on Friday. … With his start at shortstop, Flaherty appeared in games at first base, second base, third base and shortstop this week.