BALTIMORE -- Orioles pitcher Jason Hammel threw a 35-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday, his first time off a regular mound, in an encouraging step forward for the 30-year-old right-hander, who has been sidelined with right knee discomfort.
"I was actually surprised," said Hammel, who wore a knee brace while throwing. "I thought it would still be a little weak. The last few pitches I felt a little weakness and a little discomfort, but it's a step in the right direction."
Hammel said the team will wait and see how his knee feels on Wednesday before determining the next step, although he remains hopeful that will get another start this season. Asked if Tuesday made him more confident that he will return, Hammel said: "I really don't know. I'd like to be. That's the game plan. It really depends on how it reacts [Wednesday]. Obviously, it feels great right now but it could come back and be really sore [Wednesday]."
While Hammel said he's "definitely not at 100 percent" on the mound, he was upbeat about how his knee held up with the brace.
"It's like a quarterback brace, I'm trying to become Dan Marino," Hammel joked. "I love the Dolphins so much. All I need is playbook on my wrist."
The Orioles best starter when healthy, Hammel aggravated his surgically repaired knee in his second start back from the disabled list earlier this month. He is 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 20 starts despite being hampered by knee issues the past three months.
-- Brittany Ghiroli
Wolf awaiting MRI results, word from doctors
BALTIMORE -- Orioles reliever Randy Wolf sat at his locker appearing downcast before Tuesday's game against the Blue Jays as he awaited a definitive prognosis on his sore left elbow.
The left-hander underwent an MRI on Tuesday and was still waiting to hear from doctors about whether he will be able to pitch again this season. Wolf declined to discuss the MRI with reporters before the game, referring all questions to manager Buck Showalter.
Orioles team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens was expected to talk to Wolf at some point Tuesday night, and Showalter said Dr. Lewis Yocum, who previously performed ligament-reconstructive surgery on Wolf, will also likely offer his consultation.
"Nothing is imminent until he speaks with Dr. Wilckens directly and asks him other questions, and speaks to Dr. Yocum and his opinion about it," Showalter said. "I'm hoping we can get something done here in the next couple of days, but that depends on what Drs. Wilckens and Yocum can come to an agreement on."
Showalter acknowledged it would be a blow to the club if Wolf has to be shut down for the season. However, the Orioles have battled injuries and different players have been able to step into roles without much of a drop-off.
"Randy is a guy who will give you a chance out there," Showalter said. "He knows how to pitch. He's been in a lot of fires in his time, so it's a loss if we do lose him. Unfortunately, we've had a lot of experience with that this year. I think we're better with him."
Ford out; Markakis on mend, but no timetable
BALTIMORE -- Orioles outfielder Lew Ford injured his groin Sunday against Boston and was out of the lineup for the second consecutive day Tuesday.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter declined to provide any other details regarding the injury. Ford is batting .213 with three home runs in 19 games.
"I don't think it was in his best health interest to start the game today ... or [Monday]," Showalter said. "[Monday] it was as sore or sorer [than Sunday] and that's why we were cautious with it. Today, there does not seem to be a whole lot of improvement. But potentially, we could do some things if we so desire."
In other injury news, outfielder Nick Markakis appears to be on the mend after undergoing surgery for a broken left thumb last month. Markakis is no longer in a cast and hopes to have the pins taken out of his thumb next week in Tampa. However, there is no timetable for his return.
"Hopefully, it has the potential to be on the fast track," Showalter said.
Thome enjoying ride as O's chase playoff spot
BALTIMORE -- When asked what it's like to be in the middle of a playoff chase, Jim Thome showed all of the enthusiasm of a wide-eyed rookie as opposed to his role as the Orioles' most-seasoned veteran.
Thome, who at 42 has played almost 20 years, is not even thinking about retirement as the Orioles are within 1 1/2 games of the first-place Yankees in the American League East. Thome said there is a similar feeling with the Orioles this season as it was early in his career with Cleveland, when the Indians finally ended their postseason drought.
"I'm focusing in on now and now worrying about next year," Thome said. "I don't really look ahead. I'm looking to today and not getting head of myself. Just enjoy the ride."
Thome spent nearly two months on the disabled list with a herniated disk in his neck. However, since returning to the lineup last week, he has made an impact as a designated hitter, knocking in the go-ahead run in Saturday's 9-6 victory over the Red Sox in 12 innings.
The sole focus now is helping Baltimore advance to the playoffs for the first time since 1997.
"In the long run for everybody, the ultimate is to get an opportunity to get into the postseason," Thome said. "What you do from there, remains to be seen. But for me personally, it's been a little bit of a tough year as far as injury-wise. There are no regrets. You get back, you work hard and whatever role you're in, you do the best in that role to help your club."
Bundy, Hoes receive Minor League accolades
BALTIMORE -- Right-hander Dylan Bundy and outfielder L.J. Hoes were honored by the Orioles before Tuesday's game against the Blue Jays for their outstanding seasons in the Minor Leagues.
Bundy received the Jim Palmer Award as Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Bundy was a combined 9-3 with a 2.08 ERA in 103.2 innings with Minor League affiliates Bowie (Double-A), Frederick (high Class A) and Delmarva (low Class A). Bundy,19, was called up by Baltimore on Sept. 1, becoming the first Oriole to debut before his 20th birthday since Mike Adamson on July 1, 1967.
For Bundy, it has been a season that has already exceeded expectations.
"My goal at the beginning of the year was to be in Bowie and I made that goal," said Bundy, who was the O's first-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. "And they told me I wasn't going to get called up, and then I exceeded that goal when they called me up here. That's a huge honor with Jim Palmer, and if he gives me that award, being named after him ... not really sure what the words are for that. But it's exciting."
Hoes was named the Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year. He hit a combined .287 with five home runs and 54 runs batted in for Triple-A Norfolk and Bowie. He also had a .372 on-base percentage with 20 stolen bases and 79 runs scored.
"I was very, very excited. I've put a lot of hard working just to be where I'm at and it's a tremendous accolade," Hoes said. "It's been a whirlwind year for me, just going up the ups and downs of it. Starting off back in Bowie, I was kind of disappointed. But just going out there and playing and going to Norfolk, and having the ups and downs there and having my grandfather pass. You know, being at home for a weekend, getting called up here. It's definitely been a tremendous year and I really enjoyed it."
Todd Karpovich is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.