BALTIMORE -- The Orioles' muddled pitching rotation became a bit clearer on Thursday, with manager Buck Showalter's announcement that Jason Hammel is tentatively scheduled to start Monday and Dana Eveland will start Friday.
Hammel's next regular start would have been Thursday, but that date was pushed back to Monday or Tuesday to give him time to recover from right knee soreness that has been slowly worsening since it first cropped up two or three starts ago.
Hammel said Wednesday that an MRI revealed fluid and inflammation, but the knee had been improving with treatment.
"He could have pitched today if we had to," Showalter said. "If it was a different part of the season, he probably would have pitched, but we want to be real cautious."
Hammel dealt with a similar injury to his left knee, which was operated on after the 2008 season, so Showalter is trusting him to appropriately handle his latest ailment.
"He's got his arms around what he's dealing with and he feels like if he can get a couple extra days, or three or four, he should be able to manage it the rest of the season," Showalter said.
Missing Hammel for any stretch of time would be a significant blow, as he has been far and away Baltimore's best starter this season. Through six starts, the righty is 4-1 with a 2.09 ERA. In his most recent outing on Saturday against Boston, Hammel threw 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits.
Although Eveland had been projected as the starter for Friday's game against Tampa Bay for some time, Showalter confirmed those reports Thursday. Eveland was pulled from his Monday start with Triple-A Norfolk after five scoreless innings and 63 pitches.
Eveland, who made the trip to Baltimore on Thursday, has been Norfolk's most effective starter this season, posting a 3-2 record with a 2.21 ERA. The lefty has not allowed more than three runs in any outing this season.
"He had a good year in a very hitter-friendly park in Triple-A and has had some success at times in the big leagues," Showalter said. "He's pitching real well down there, pitching as well as any of their starters are, so I think we're lucky to have him. We'll see if Tampa agrees with me."
Orioles' Chavez heads to disabled list
BALTIMORE -- As expected, given the Orioles' decision to recall starter Tommy Hunter, the team has placed outfielder Endy Chavez on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday with a left intercostal muscle strain. The move allows Hunter, who was optioned to Triple-A on Monday, to be recalled within the 10-day period, and puts the Orioles' second left fielder on the DL, as Chavez joins Nolan Reimold and the depth chart takes another hit.
"I never thought I'd be in this position, it's kind of frustrating and disappointing," Chavez said of his injury, which started during last month's series against the Angels and has progressively worsened. "I just wanted to try to help the team and keep playing. After the [season-ending] injury I had on my knee [in 2009], I don't want to go back again that way. It's frustrating and something I was not expecting."
Chavez said he had an MRI on his left oblique last week that came back OK, and he was able to get a handle on it with daily treatments. But the pain wouldn't go away and the inflammation in his rib-cage area wouldn't go away, prompting him to bring the issue to the team's attention after playing in Tuesday's game. Chavez was diagnosed with a left intercostal muscle strain, an area of the body located between the ribs that helps stabilize the chest wall.
Chavez is eligible to be activated as early as May 24, which is a scheduled off-day. The Orioles start a three-game homestand with the Kansas City Royals the following day.
Signed as a free agent this winter, Chavez has been excellent defensively, but he has struggled to get going at the plate. In 20 games, he hit .133, including a .125 marker (5-for-40) with eight strikeouts since the series in Anaheim.
Hunter will pitch the second game of Thursday's doubleheader, having last started Sunday's 17-inning game in Boston.
Scott recalls days with Orioles fondly
NEW YORK -- When the Rays open up a series at Camden Yards on Friday, Luke Scott will make his first visit to Baltimore since leaving the Orioles following last season, when the team chose not to tender him a contract.
Scott played four years in Baltimore, hitting .260 with 84 home runs and 236 RBIs in 471 games.
"Like I've said in the past, I played four years in Baltimore, had a lot of good memories there, met a lot of wonderful people, played with a good group of guys," Scott said. "I'm just very grateful for the opportunity to play in Baltimore.
"It will be special going back there. It's a beautiful park as well; I love Camden Yards. It will be a little emotional of course, because you play there and you dedicate four years of your life to one spot. I have a lot of special memories there."
Scott was asked if he anticipated more of a warm reception in Baltimore than what he received in Boston shortly after calling Fenway Park "a dump" from a player's perspective.
"I definitely think it will be a lot warmer than Boston," Scott said.
In his short tenure with the Rays, Scott has already become a fan favorite, a status he also maintained in Baltimore. He said he enjoys having a rapport with the fans.
"I like to, as much as I can, involve the fans in the game," Scott said. "I played the outfield in Baltimore. I would always interact with the fans. I would have fun with them."
Among the fans Scott enjoyed were those who came out dressed as Darth Vader and talked to "Luke" about "the Force" being with him.
"I'd high-five [the fans] or go and talk to them during pitching changes and stuff like that," Scott said. "I just would celebrate with them all the team victories and good plays, stuff like that. I like doing stuff like that. I like having them involved."
Scott said he had many fond memories from playing in Baltimore.
"I won't say there was one in particular," Scott said. "There were a few -- some big games we won, some big comebacks we had there. Unfortunately, we were never able to make it to the postseason."
-- Bill Chastain
With first extended spring start, Britton on track
BALTIMORE -- Orioles lefty Zach Britton made his first of three scheduled appearances in extended spring camp on Thursday, throwing three scoreless innings. The 24-year-old allowed only one hit and one walk in 45 pitches. Britton also notched a strikeout and five ground-ball outs, throwing mostly fastballs and a few changeups.
Manager Buck Showalter said all reports on Britton are positive and that his fastball velocity was "much better" than what it had been in batting practice.
Showalter added that Britton's recovery is right on schedule, which projects a potential return for late May, but more likely early June.
"It's been a pretty cautious schedule," Showalter said. "If anything, I'm not going to say overly cautious, I just think it's a good schedule to really make sure he's right."
Tolleson an added boost of versatility for O's
BALTIMORE -- Triple-A Norfolk shortstop Steve Tolleson was getting ready to go back out for the bottom of the third inning on Wednesday when he was stopped and given the good news: He was being summoned to Baltimore.
With injuries to outfielders Nolan Reimold and Endy Chavez giving utility player Ryan Flaherty -- who started in left field Thursday afternoon -- more time there, the O's were in need of another bench player capable of playing multiple positions. They got one in Tolleson, who was predominantly Norfolk's shortstop but has played pretty much everywhere along the infield as well as some left field.
"[They] just told me to be ready to play," Tolleson said of his role with the Orioles. "I'm sure I'm here to serve as some versatility off the bench. That being said, I know the team's being banged up a little bit and I'll get some opportunities. I'm just looking forward to helping these guys continue to win."
The 28-year-old Tolleson batted .265 with one home run and 11 RBIs in 26 games with the Tides. Signed as a Minor League free agent this winter, Tolleson batted .258 (8-for-31) as a non-roster invitee during Spring Training and said Thursday he's been keeping tabs on the big league club from down below.
"It's been a lot of fun to watch," Tolleson said of the Orioles' hot start. "Hope we can continue to keep this thing going, I know down in Norfolk they really try to concentrate on winning. I know that hadn't been part of the past lately. But I think the emphasis down there has made it more fun to watch these guys do what they've done up here."
Ryan Flaherty connected for his first career Major League home run off Rangers starter Colby Lewis in the first inning Thursday. J.J. Hardy and Nick Markakis followed with a pair of homers, marking the first back-to-back-to-back homers for the Orioles since July 20, 2010.
On this Sunday in honor of Mother's Day, Adrienne Roberson will be the Orioles' guest PA announcer. Adrienne is the current Bowie Baysox PA announcer and is in her eighth season with Bowie. She has two children, Kyle, 11, and Kelli, 9.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. Greg Luca is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.