Jason Hammel and Steve Johnson talk about returning to the Orioles

Jason Hammel is back on the Orioles' active roster. Out since July 29 due to a right flexor mass strain, Hammel has made two rehab outings in the minors and today is back in the majors.

"Very excited to be back," Hammel said. "Being healthy, number one. But being back with these guys, a fun group. I tried to get back as quick as I could. It was tough to watch on TV. I want to be there with them and go through the ups and downs together. I know I can help and tried to get back as quick as I could."

Hammel went 2 2/3 innings without allowing a run last Thursday at Double-A Bowie and went four innings Tuesday for short-season, Single-A Aberdeen, allowing three hits and one run in that outing. Afterward, he said he, healthy, could throw all his pitches and felt ready to return to the Orioles.

Is he stretched out enough to start if the O's want him to do that?

"Yeah. I definitely could," he said. "Could do either one. Feel very good, much better. Probably take me back to Florida, feeling (this) good those first couple of weeks of spring training before everything happened."

Hammel is 7-8 with a 5.20 ERA in 21 O's starts this season.

Meanwhile, Steve Johnson also returned to the Orioles today, recalled from Triple-A Norfolk. He missed about six weeks in June and July with a strained oblique but threw a very strong game in his last outing for Triple-A Norfolk and is back with the big club.

"Yeah, of course (great to be back)," he said. "Obviously, not the type of season I had hoped for with injuries. But back now, I'm healthy and able to help.

Johnson went 2-3 with a 4.11 ERA with 17 walks to 52 strikeouts over 46 innings with Norfolk. This is his latest chance to show the Orioles what he can do.

"That is what I try to do every time," he said. "But this year with injuries and everything, was trying to get back to where I was and get better. This offseason, hope to go into it real healthy and have an offseason to be able to do everything I need to do and make sure this type of season doesn't happen again."

Monday with Norfolk, as the Tides were pushing for a playoff berth, Johnson went 6 1/3, giving up just two hits and one run with two walks and 10 strikeouts.

"Was able to get my fastball over for strikes," he said of that outing. "I was just missing every now and then with location and my arm slot was a little different for a while. But being able to go 100 pitches back-to-back, that was a big deal. I was good to go, got my offspeed pitches over for strikes and everything was working."

But coming off his very solid performance for the Orioles in 2012, Johnson has had a 2013 season where he has thrown just 66 2/3 innings, dealt with that injury and some rehab and has thrown just 12 2/3 innings at the major league level.

"Frustrating for me," he said. "I would have loved to help the team more than I have and done better. We're still in it and I'm happy to be here and help in any way I can. Hope we can finish strong."

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