Hammel: "If needed, I'm ready to go"

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Jason Hammel said his right knee feels great after yesterday's simulated game in Sarasota, where he threw 73 pitches in five innings. He may throw a bullpen session on Wednesday and will be available to start for the Orioles beginning on Saturday.

"As of today, for the day after, it feels great. No setbacks, no soreness, no swelling," he said. "If needed, I'm ready to go. I feel good. I'd say right now it's as good as it's going to get before a full rest in the offseason, which is pretty good."

Hammel hasn't made a start for the Orioles since Sept. 11 against the Rays at Camden Yards.

"I always expect myself to be sharp," he said. "Obviously, I feel like I'm ready to go. It's just whether or not the manager wants to put me in there and can trust me, and that's a tough decision because I haven't pitched in a while. But I take care of myself and prepare myself for when I go out there, I'm going to be helpful."

hammel pitch grey shoulder sidebar.jpgHammel won't pitch before Saturday because manager Buck Showalter refuses to use him on fewer than four days rest after the simulated game.

"To put any calm in his mind, if I'm needed, I'm ready. That's the way I view it," Hammel said.

"It's kind of just a waiting game to see how things play out. I'm trying to figure out tickets for the family for everything and they're asking where we're going to be. It's a nightmare right now trying to plan, but I'd love to have this nightmare any time of the year."

Hammel is using a different brace on his knee that offers more support on both sides.

"I can't twist and really do, like when I'm driving to the plate, that pinch where it was in the back of the leg, it won't let me get to that point," he said. "It's kind of restricting. It still feels like I'm doing what I need to do pitching-wise, but it's preventing me from doing anything else.

"We've taken a lot more time with (the knee) and been a lot more careful with it and I'm telling these guys it's about as good as it's going to get this year, so the offseason will help me be ready fully for next year."

Pitcher Kevin Gausman, the Orioles' first-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, threw a bullpen session at Tropicana Field and sat down with reporters in the visiting dugout. I'll post his comments later today.

For the Rays:
Desmond Jennings LF
B.J. Upton CF
Ben Zobrist SS
Evan Longoria 3B
Jeff Keppinger 1B
Matt Joyce RF
Ryan Roberts 2B
Luke Scott DH
Chris Gimenez C

James Shields RHP

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