Wearing knee brace, Hammel throws off mound

Wearing knee brace, Hammel throws off mound

BALTIMORE -- Orioles pitcher Jason Hammel threw a 35-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday, his first time off a regular mound, in an encouraging step forward for the 30-year-old right-hander, who has been sidelined with right knee discomfort.

"I was actually surprised," said Hammel, who wore a knee brace while throwing. "I thought it would still be a little weak. The last few pitches I felt a little weakness and a little discomfort, but it's a step in the right direction."

Hammel said the team will wait and see how his knee feels on Wednesday before determining the next step, although he remains hopeful that will get another start this season. Asked if Tuesday made him more confident that he will return, Hammel said: "I really don't know. I'd like to be. That's the game plan. It really depends on how it reacts [Wednesday]. Obviously, it feels great right now but it could come back and be really sore [Wednesday]."

While Hammel said he's "definitely not at 100 percent" on the mound, he was upbeat about how his knee held up with the brace.

"It's like a quarterback brace, I'm trying to become Dan Marino," Hammel joked. "I love the Dolphins so much. All I need is playbook on my wrist."

The Orioles best starter when healthy, Hammel aggravated his surgically repaired knee in his second start back from the disabled list earlier this month. He is 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 20 starts despite being hampered by knee issues the past three months.

-- Brittany Ghiroli