Rotation would take another hit without Hammel

A reminder that the Orioles will honor Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer today with the unveiling of his statue at 2:15 p.m. All gates open at 2 p.m.

Is he available to pitch?

Executive vice president Dan Duquette is trying to acquire a starting pitcher. To which I say, “Why only one?”

The only good news is that Brian Matusz and Zach Britton were exceptional in their most recent starts, and Tommy Hunter had one bad inning last night out of 7 1/3. I don’t need to be reminded that they’re facing Triple-A hitters. It still beats the alternative.

Jason Hammel continued to pitch the entire first half despite discomfort in his right knee and the occasional draining of fluid. I kept wondering how long he would hold up before it finally forced him out of a game.

We’ll soon find out whether it’s forcing him on the disabled list.

I would be less concerned if it were Hammel’s left knee, but it’s in the exact same area that’s bothered him all year.

It’s too soon to speculate about a replacement if Hammel can’t make his next turn. You know who’s in Norfolk.

Check out the hitters, too, because this club could use a hot bat.

“That Norfolk club, they’re doing a good job, and it’s something we’ve strived to have this year,” said manager Buck Showalter. “There’s two or three guys down there that you’d like to figure out a way to take advantage of what they’re doing. There’s nobody in that league that’s probably had a better season than (Miguel) Socolovich. He’s been rock solid.

“It’s comforting to know we’ve got some people down there that are grinding it and working for a way to get back. And they’ve had a taste of success. It just hasn’t been at the level we need it to be to compete. They have options and so do we. They can come back just as quick, but actually they control it. We don’t control it. That’s the thing that I think they understand. They control this. We want them to do well and pitch well up here, but there will be someone else come along that everybody’s going to run up the flag pole. Just like coaches, managers, writers. There’s always somebody there if you can’t deliver what the job description is. It’s just an accountabilty. We just can’t be satisfied with mediocrity.”

Here’s what we know about the rotation: Wei-Yin Chen starts today, Chris Tillman tomorrow and Miguel Gonzalez on Monday.

Here’s what we suspect: Britton will start Tuesday, though Dana Eveland remains a candidate after throwing 21 pitches last night.

Tillman allowed three runs and four hits, and walked two batters, in 3 1/3 innings in Monday’s start at Double-A Bowie, but Showalter didn’t flinch.

“I was talking to him about it,” Showalter said. “An 11 a.m. game? The atmosphere wasn’t real ... He had a good work day (Thursday) and he’s scheduled to pitch Sunday. It’s going to be tough to pitch at the level he did in Seattle, but we’ll see. If he can bring that, that’s a pretty special addition for us. But the Bowie thing was about keeping a ball in his hand and not let him sit around for 10 or 12 days.”

As for the offense, which ended its 24-inning scoreless streak last night but managed only two runs, J.J. Hardy is 0-for-23 and 3-for-44. Jim Thome is 5-for-25 with no extra-base hits, one RBI, three walks and 11 strikeouts since joining the Orioles.

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