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.

Phillies sign Trevor Plouffe to minor league deal

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Infielder Trevor Plouffe has signed a minor league deal with the Phillies, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports. Plouffe asked for and was granted his release from the Rangers earlier this month.

Plouffe, 31, had a double and a home run in 17 plate appearances with Triple-A Round Rock to start the 2018 season. He spent last year with the Athletics and Rays, putting up a meager .198/.272/.318 batting line in 100 games.

Plouffe has mostly played third base throughout his career, but can also handle the other three infield spots and both outfield corners, so he’ll serve as organizational depth at Triple-A Lehigh Valley for the Phillies.