Knee soreness forces Hammel to miss start

Knee soreness forces Hammel to miss start

Knee soreness forces Hammel to miss start
BALTIMORE -- Pitcher Jason Hammel will have his next start pushed back, as the right-hander is dealing with right knee soreness that has progressively worsened over his past two or three starts, although the 29-year-old said Wednesday he's confident he can avoid the disabled list.

"I'm very confident about that," said Hammel, who has been encouraged with how the area has responded to treatment in the last few days. Hammel, who was originally scheduled to pitch on Thursday, had an MRI that didn't reveal anything surprising.

"There's fluid and inflammation, other than that maybe an old injury that had been re-aggravated," said Hammel, who had a similar injury on his left knee, which was operated on after the 2008 season. "Nothing fancy. Other than that, just enough to [aggravate] my knee."

There's no timetable for Hammel right now, but losing him for any length of time is a serious blow to the Orioles' pitching staff. Acquired in an offseason trade from the Colorado Rockies, Hammel has been the Orioles' best starter, going 4-1 with a 2.01 ERA in six starts.

"Obviously, I'm not too happy about it," Hammel said of missing Thursday's start. "But it's just the smartest thing to do for right now. I need to help this team down the road. Initially [missing] one start instead of trying to battle through it and [having] it keep getting worse and worse, maybe something bigger would happen [if the Orioles didn't take this course of action]. We will see if we can get it controlled."

"I think he's had some experience with it," manager Buck Showalter said of Hammel's knee injury. "It's the first spring he said he didn't have any problems with it at all."

In place of Hammel, the Orioles announced after Wednesday's game was rained out that they will recall Tommy Hunter -- who was optioned Monday -- to start Game 2 of Thursday's doubleheader. While a corresponding move wasn't announced, it looks as if outfielder Endy Chavez (oblique) is headed to the disabled list. The only way Hunter can be recalled within 10 days of being optioned is if there's an injury.

Lefty Dana Eveland was pulled from his start on Monday after 63 pitches and appears to be the leading candidate for Friday's start.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.