Hammel: “The knee feels great”

The pain is still fresh for Orioles pitcher Jason Hammel. It hasn’t gone away.

Fortunately, it has nothing to do with his right knee.

Hammel said it still “hurts” that the Orioles lost to the Yankees in Game 5 of the American League Division Series, but the best piece of news to come from his interview yesterday on WBAL Radio is that he’s on a normal workout schedule and having no setbacks with his knee.

hammel black nats sidebar.jpgHammel underwent surgery in July to remove loose cartilage, and he limped off the mound during a Sept. 11 game against the Rays in his second start after being activated from the disabled list. He didn’t pitch again until the Division Series, allowing four runs in 11 1/3 innings over two starts.

“The knee feels great,” he said. “I’m very happy with the way things have gone this offseason. I knew that I wasn’t going to feel 100 percent or close to that until I got off of it. Coming back early from surgery set me back, but getting off it and not doing anything actively and giving it time to rest really helped. The first month, I didn’t do anything other than just going to football games and spending time with my family, and loving it.

“I honestly can get around fine right now. I’ve been with my physical therapist the last two weeks and I’ve been working out for a month. I’m on my normal schedule. I’m very excited to really get back at it again.”

He’d like a better finish to the 2013 season, one that doesn’t end at Yankee Stadium.

“It hurts still, but as a group we know we did a lot of things right,” said Hammel, who went 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 20 starts in his first season with the Orioles. “We just ran into another good ballclub, which is what happens in the playoffs. CC (Sabathia) threw a hell of a game that day. He did it in the first game, too, but that’s what you expect when you get in the playoffs. Unfortunately, somebody has to lose. You don’t want it to be you, of course, but it was an eye-opener for a lot of people. We proved that we could do it and be successful, getting that deep into the season, making a run at the playoffs and getting in and still playing well.

“There’s still room to improve, but I think once we get to spring training, that wound will be healed and we’ll be ready to go.”

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