NEW YORK -- Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette was on hand to watch Orioles righty Jason Hammel's rehab start for Class A Advanced Frederick on Saturday night.
It marked the first -- and perhaps only -- rehab outing for the 29-year-old Hammel, who is working his way back from right knee surgery and could be a candidate to start the Thursday's game at home vs. the Yankees.
"Just see how he feels physically and if he's not favoring it at all," manager Buck Showalter said of how the club will determine if Hammel is good to go. "I think the last hurdle is to get over the mental part of it, not thinking about it. I don't care how many [simulated] games [you throw], you get in a game environment like that, [it's different]. So, we will lean on Dan and Hamm. I texted him last night, just wished him good luck. I know he's excited about getting him back out there.
"Hopefully we get good news there and he's a candidate for next time out. If not, he will start in [Double-A] Bowie."
Hammel threw 66 pitches, 47 for strikes, for the Keys on Saturday, allowing no runs and three hits with one walk and seven strikeouts.
He will rejoin the team in Toronto to throw a regular between-starts bullpen session under the watchful eye of pitching coach Rick Adair, regardless of if he needs another rehab start.
Hammel's return would help boost an inconsistent -- but improving -- starting rotation, as the right-hander was the club's best pitcher before hitting the disabled list in mid-July. In his first year with the Orioles, Hammel is 8-6 with a 3.54 ERA in 18 starts despite battling right knee soreness a month before he went on the DL.