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Hammel tosses scoreless outing in rehab start

BOWIE, Md. -- Jason Hammel finally made it back to the mound in a real game Thursday night. Even though it was with the Double-A Bowie Baysox, the right-hander was clearly happy to be pitching competitively once more.

Hammel threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings for Bowie in his first rehab start. He's been on the disabled list since late July with a right flexor mass strain and struggled at times against the Binghamton Mets before settling in and finishing strong.

The veteran threw 47 pitches, 32 for strikes, and finished with three strikeouts and no walks. Hammel gave up three hits and plunked two batters, big reasons why he needed to wriggle out of jams in both the first and second innings before retiring his final four batters.

"For the first time being on the mound, it doesn't matter what league you're in, it takes a little bit to get settled in," said Hammel, who was 7-8 with a 5.20 ERA in 21 starts before getting injured. "I hadn't seen a hitter in a month, so I felt pretty good to have a catcher behind the plate and get a hitter and umpire in there, see everything and still be able to execute."

Hammel said he had a better feel for the slider and his mechanics. His fastball often looked good and got as high as 96 mph on the Prince George's Stadium radar gun. Hammel was often in the low and mid 90's throughout his stint.

Before taking the mound, Hammel had thrown just two side sessions.

"It's a much bigger improvement," Hammel said. "I should be even better next time out."

Hammel's just not sure when the next time out is going to come. It seems likely it could be Class A affiliates Frederick or Aberdeen. However, Frederick's season ends on Monday, and Aberdeen goes two days longer.

Hammel said the injury definitely impacted him most of the season.

"I'm not a guy that makes excuses," Hammel said. "[But] when you can't actually finish and get to your extension for your pitches, you're going to leave balls up and you're going to get hit. I tried to battle through it. I certainly didn't feel like myself."

Daniel Muno led off Thursday's game with a double to left-center. Hammel retired the next two batters before giving up an infield single.

Hammel then hit Cory Vaughn to load the bases before getting Wilfredo Tovar to ground into an inning-ending force play. Hammel then got some rest as the Baysox banged out three homers in the bottom of the first and took a 6-0 lead.

Hammel's second inning was much like the first. He hit leadoff batter Xorge Carrillo and later gave up a one-out single to Alonzo Harris that put runners on first and second.

However, Hammel again bounced back as the next two batters grounded out. The Mets went just 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position in those first two innings, stranding five.

Hammel seemed to be settling in at that point. He retired the first two batters of the third before manager Gary Kendall pulled him.

Hammel has been a starter, but he said he's going to be ready for whatever the Orioles ask him to do upon his return, even if it means coming out of the bullpen. He just wants to help.

"We've got plenty of arms up there and plenty of guys who can do the job; I'm game for anything," Hammel said. "It's the playoffs. It's the September run, all hands on deck. Everyone should be ready to go no matter what. We're right there again, and that's where we want to be. I'll be ready when they call me."

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to
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