Orioles pitcher Hammel to throw off mound Saturday

August 10, 2012 | Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Orioles starting pitcher Jason Hammel will throw off the front of a mound Saturday as he takes the next step in his recovery from right knee surgery.

Hammel will be in Baltimore for the throwing session and if the knee responds well the following day, the Orioles have a schedule in place for the right-hander to start bullpen sessions and then go on a minor league rehab assignment. The 29-year-old underwent surgery to have a piece of loose cartilage removed from his knee the week after the All-Star break.

“He’s had a ball in his hand for awhile now,” manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s not that long where it’s like a spring training thing with the arm strength. It’s not so much, for me, Saturday as it is how he feels Sunday. If he doesn’t have any issues there, then we can proceed with a plan to have a little more definitive date about when he’ll be able to pitch for us.”

Showalter’s estimated timetable all along has been early September for Hammel’s return to the Baltimore rotation, but the Orioles manager could see that being a bit earlier if the pitcher gets through Saturday’s session without any setbacks. A minor league rehab assignment would not need to be a long one, according to Showalter.

“It’s not like he’s going to have to go out and throw one or two innings the first time out and two or three the next time out,” Showalter said. “Once he gets healthy, it can move pretty quickly.”

Hammel last pitched for the Orioles on July 13 and has an 8-6 record with a 3.54 earned run average in 18 starts this season. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list on July 15.