Tolleson makes another trip to the majors (Hammel and Hunter updates)

NEW YORK - Jason Hammel gave up an infield hit and walked a batter in his first inning tonight at Single-A Frederick. The Orioles want him to go five innings and to get his pitch count to 70-75 before they decide whether to activate him.

If Hammel stays on the disabled list, he’ll be assigned to Double-A Bowie and pitch in the Eastern League playoffs. Otherwise, he could make a Sept. 6 start for the Orioles at Camden Yards.

UPDATE: Hammel shut out the Carolina Mudcats on three hits over five innings, with one walk and seven strikeouts. He threw 66 pitches, 47 for strikes.

Hammel will throw a bullpen session next week in Toronto.

Meanwhile, Steve Tolleson is back with the Orioles for the fourth time this season, but who’s counting?

OK, I’m counting. The Orioles selected his contract from Triple-A Norfolk on May 9, optioned him on June 12, recalled him on June 14 when Endy Chavez went on the disabled list, optioned him on June 27, recalled him on July 7, optioned him on July 26 and recalled him today.

Tolleson figured to be part of the expanded September roster, especially with his status on the 40-man roster, but he didn’t take the decision for granted.

Tolleson Throws White wide.jpg“I never assumed,” he said. “I’m not the type of player who has the abilities to just assume and go through the motions. I was working as hard as I could down there every day and try to put myself in the best position to come back up and help this team. This team’s been a lot of fun to watch. Watching Manny come up and do his thing, that’s really special for an organization and for him. Just a lot of fun. And I was hoping that I could find a way to come back up and help contribute.”

Tolleson feared that a broken right index finger would ruin his chances. He sustained the injury on Aug. 4, but only missed 12 days.

“That was disappointing,” said Tolleson, who batted .278 with eight doubles, one homer and 21 RBIs in 50 games at Norfolk. “They originally told me a broken bone and four-to-six weeks. I was thinking that may be the end of my year, so I was really disappointed. But the first week after the injury, the pain just kind of really went away. I don’t know how to explain it. It was a vertical break instead of a horizontal break, so whenever I’d push back to throw, there wasn’t pain, which allowed me to play through it. Hitting the first couple days was sore, but three or four days into it, I fouled a ball off my shin and started thinking about my shin instead of my finger. Baseball’s a funny game. But I’m very thankful it only ended up being a two-week deal, and I was able to get back in and play 10 or 12 games and show them I was ready to come up and help.”

The injury occurred when Tolleson tried to barehand a ball at second base after it took a bad hop.

“Bad move. Bad move. But that’s the way I play,” he said. “I play hard, and when you play hard, injuries are going to happen. It was bad timing for the year, but everything worked out and I’m glad to be back up here.”

Tolleson played third base, shortstop and second base at Norfolk, but he’ll take any position with the Orioles - even upright on the bench. He’s just glad to be back in the majors, where he hit .185 with three doubles, two homers - including a three-run shot off Cliff Lee - and six RBIs in 24 games this year.

“I feel like I have a lot of good friendships on this team and I feel like I’ve meshed well with a lot of guys on this team,” he said. “When I’m down there, I’m obviously keeping up with what’s going on up here. But the time I spent down there definitely felt longer than the time I spent up here.”

UPDATE II: Tommy Hunter pitched the ninth inning for Double-A Bowie in Game 1 of a doubleheader and earned the save after allowing one hit and striking out two. He threw 17 pitches, 14 for strikes.

The Orioles will recall Hunter and likely place him in the bullpen. They wanted to limit his pitches tonight so he would be available for them sooner than five days.

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