Orioles right-hander Jason Hammel will pitch in a second simulated game Monday and, if all goes well, is slated to make a five-inning minor league rehab start Saturday for the Class-A Frederick Keys.
For Hammel, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in mid-July, it marks the tail end of his recovery process. If the rehab proceeds as scheduled, he could be activated to pitch for the Orioles on Sept. 6.
“The knee feels great,” Hammel said Sunday. “I think it’s about as good as it’s going to be until I’m off of it [after the season]. It still feels really good.”
Hammel’s sim game Monday will likely last three or four innings and about 50 pitches. He will also throw a bullpen session before his start Saturday.
“Honestly, I don’t want to waste too much time doing rehab stuff,” Hammel said. “I feel like with another sim game and another side and obviously game action, I can get back to the sharpness where I need to be.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Hammel's minor vleague rehab outing Saturday will be a significant step, but he remained cautious about predicting a return, saying that he believed the starter is still a little hesitant with the knee.
“The sim game is one thing, you’re trying to get [first-base coach] Wayne Kirby out,” Showalter said. “You’re simulating that, but there’ s two other levels to go through, one in Frederick where it counts and then here.
“The best-case scenario would be to take him after Frederick, but there’s a lot bridges to cross there, which means he’d be a six-inning pitcher. It’s one thing to get him back physically. It’s another thing if you don’t know what you’re getting back. Both of these guys have spoiled us with a pretty good level of pitching, so that’s why you’re always going to err on the side of pitching depth anytime you can keep it in the system or acquire it.”