Orioles’ Jason Hammel set for knee surgery

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Jason Hammel, who has lost four straight starts trying to pitch with a sore right knee, will undergo surgery and miss at least three weeks, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports.

Hammel has loose cartilage floating around in the knee that he needs taken out.

“Where it was before it was kind of uncomfortable,” Hammel said. “Now it is kind of in the joint, kind of pinned into the joint, so every time I bend the knee it pretty much hits the nerve in the area, so it’s not very comfortable right now.”

Hammel nearly made the AL All-Star team after opening the season 8-2 with a 2.61 ERA, but he’s given up 17 runs in 19 2/3 innings in his last four outings, all of them losses.

The Orioles haven’t announced who will replace him in the rotation, but Tommy Hunter appears to be the likely choice. Even though Brian Matusz pitched a shutout in his first start after being sent down to Triple-A Norfolk, manager Buck Showalter isn’t keen on the idea of bringing him back so quickly.

Mets sign Matt Purke to minors deal

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The Mets signed left-hander Matt Purke to a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Purke will also receive an invitation to spring training, where he could presumably beef up the club’s left-handed relief options alongside Jerry Blevins and Josh Smoker.

Purke has not appeared in the majors since 2016, when he was used in a dozen relief appearances by the White Sox. The 27-year-old racked up a 5.50 ERA, 6.0 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 in his first 18 innings with the team, and was demoted to Triple-A Charlotte in June to finish out the season. He spent the entire 2017 season in Triple-A as well, showing more promise with a 3.84 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 11.0 SO/9 in 48 appearances.

While Purke may not amount to much more than a depth piece in New York’s ‘pen, the veteran lefty figures to be part of the Mets’ new bullpen-first strategy next year. Reports from MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo indicate that the club will be focusing on improving their relief options in order to ease the workload of their starting pitchers, and will likely add a few more arms before the offseason comes to a close.