KANSAS CITY -- The Orioles' Opening Day starter Jason Hammel is not shy about acknowledging that he fell short of expectations the first few months of the season, and the right-hander is eager to start fresh with Tuesday's second-half debut.
"I always expect the best, and I'm not afraid to tell people I'm disappointed with myself," said Hammel, who pitched to a 5.24 ERA in his first 19 starts. "But I'm not going to allow that to get in my way. There's a certain amount of time that you do get in your own way, but if you continue to stay disappointed, negative things happen. So, I'm going to continue plugging along. It's baseball; it's fun. I wasn't really having fun the first half. I'm going to get back to going out, throwing strikes and having fun."
The Orioles, who started the second half with a series sweep in Texas, will need Hammel to revert to last season's form if they are going to stay in an American League East race that by all accounts will come down to the wire. A big part of last year's success, the 30-year-old Hammel went 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 2012, making just 20 starts as he battled a right knee injury that required surgery and resulted in two separate stints on the disabled list.
Hammel, who has lost his last four decisions, was healthy at the All-Star break for the first time since 2008, and he used the time off to recharge and start fresh. He threw a bullpen session over the weekend when the team was in Texas and said his struggles were not mechanical; it just comes down to fastball command.
"Really what it was, was one or two pitches every game that was costly," Hammel said. "It's not like I was pitching terrible; it was just costly errors. The break was welcome; [I was] beating myself up. Really frustrated that I wasn't doing what I know I can do. But It is what it is. Second half, start fresh."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.