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After second rehab start, Hammel says he's ready

Right-hander allows one run on three hits over four innings for Aberdeen

ABERDEEN, Md. -- If the Orioles need him, Jason Hammel said he's ready to return.

Hammel made his feelings clear after a second strong rehab outing on Tuesday night. He started for Class A Aberdeen, threw four solid innings and will now wait to see what the Orioles want him to do next.

"I'd say I'm ready," Hammel said. "I don't know exactly what the plan is for the next couple days, but I've done my work, and they've taken good care of me. I feel healthy, so I'm ready to go when they want me."

The right-hander has been on the disabled list since late July with a right flexor mass strain. Hammel threw 2 2/3 shutout innings in his first rehab start last Thursday at Bowie. He came to the IronBirds for this start and fared almost as well against the Lowell Spinners, allowing one run on three hits in four innings. Hammel threw 57 pitches, 36 for strikes.

Hammel struck out two, walked one and remained in command throughout. He breezed through the first two innings, needing just 17 pitches to retire six in a row. Hammel found trouble in the third, giving up three singles and his only run.

Carlos Asuaje's RBI single to center gave Lowell its run off of Hammel. He walked one batter in the fourth and narrowly avoided a collision while covering first on Jake Romanski's grounder to second.

Overall, Hammel said he was "very, very happy" with the effort. He felt his fastball command was better this time, plus the sinkers and sliders looked good -- with consistent location throughout.

"I just wanted to be at the knees and below, and it was pretty good," Hammel said. "I was very happy with it."

Hammel said this is the best he's felt all year, except for the first days of Spring Training. So he's optimistic about what he can do to give the Orioles a boost.

"I'm just happy to be healthy and feeling good and I know I can help the team," Hammel said.

The next move belongs to the Orioles. Hammel isn't sure when the team is going to bring him back or what his role will be.

The starting rotation has been struggling at times, but if they don't want to shake it up, Hammel would probably pitch out of the bullpen. Hammel has done that before, although he thinks he can help more by starting.

Hammel said after both rehab starts that since it's September and the Orioles are in the midst of a pennant race, he'll do whatever is needed. If the Orioles ask him to go to the bullpen, he'll do it.

"It's a completely different mindset, but I do have experience there," Hammel said. "Obviously, I feel like I bring a better dynamic to the team as a starter, [but] it's crunch time. so we got to be ready for anything."

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to
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