Jason Hammel throws simulated game, could be available as soon as Saturday

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Nick Markakis is still at least three weeks away from returning from thumb surgery, but the Orioles could get one of their best starting pitchers back as soon as this weekend.

According to Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com, Jason Hammel threw 73 pitches over five innings today during a simulated game in Sarasota, Florida. He also fielded his position without incident. Barring any setbacks, he could be available to start in a possible ALDS game on Saturday.

Hammel has been sidelined since he aggravated his surgically-repaired right knee on September 11. The 29-year-old right-hander has a 3.43 ERA and 113/42 K/BB ratio in 118 innings over 20 starts this year.

In another piece of good news for the O’s, Wilson Betemit had the splint removed from his right wrist and could begin swinging a bat within 5-7 days.

Video: Ramon Torres hits little league home run in first at-bat of season

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The Royals recalled infielder Ramon Torres from Triple-A Omaha on Saturday. He didn’t get into a game until starting Thursday night’s game against the Rangers, batting ninth.

In the top of the second inning, facing Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Torres laced a single up the middle. Center fielder Delino DeShields charged in on it, attempting to keep Ryan Goins at second base, but the ball went right past his glove, through his legs, and nearly trickled all the way to the warning track. Goins scored easily and Torres was waved home, too. He managed to narrowly beat the throw, touching home plate with his left hand on a head-first slide.

The play was officially scored a single and a three-base error. Torres wasn’t credited with an RBI on the play. But at least the Royals got two runs out of it.