BALTIMORE -- The Orioles are expected to place right-handed pitcher Jason Hammel on the disabled list on Sunday, with the 29-year-old saying following Saturday's game against the Tigers that he is "leaning toward" surgery on his right knee that would likely sideline him until September.
"Honestly, I just want my knee to feel normal again," said Hammel, who exited Friday's start in the fourth inning and had an MRI on Saturday. "So, I'm kind of leaning toward surgery, but I haven't made that decision yet.
"[The decision has] got to be soon because I don't want to miss too much time. It's a pretty simple procedure to go in there and just let it be scoped. I could let it rest, and it could be fine that way, but it would be better just to get it taken care of."
Hammel said the MRI showed no further damage, but cartilage -- which would be removed in a procedure -- has moved to an area that is up against the joint and is causing him discomfort every time his bends his knee.
Losing Hammel for any length of time would be devastating for the Orioles and their already-shaky rotation. A Final Vote All-Star candidate, Hammel has been the team's best starter, entering Friday's game 8-5 with a 3.47 ERA, and has been one of two dependable rotation arms, along with Wei-Yin Chen.
"I feel like I am letting the guys down if I miss starts," said Hammel, who has been a pleasant surprise in his first season with Baltimore. "I want to be part of this. It's tough, because my body is letting me down right now and I feel so good. A lot of hard work to get where we are right now. It is what it is.
"If something does happen [surgically], the other guys are going to step up. It'll be an opportunity for somebody else. And as soon as I can come back and help the team, I am going to do that."
The leading candidate to take Hammel's next turn on Wednesday is lefty Brian Matusz, who is fresh off a complete-game shutout for Triple-A Norfolk. Matusz, who is currently scheduled to pitch Sunday for the Tides, went 5-10 with a 5.42 ERA in 16 starts for the Orioles before being sent to the Minors.
"We'll probably make a decision tomorrow, especially if we have to bring up an arm," manager Buck Showalter said of putting Hammel on the DL.