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Orioles Hammel set to start opener

Wednesday - 3/27/2013, 7:02pm  ET

FILE - In this May 14, 2012 file photo, Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Jason Hammel throws to the New York Yankees during a baseball game in Baltimore. For the first time since 1997, the Orioles are coming off a year that calls for an encore. After a run of 14 straight losing seasons, the Orioles went 93-69 in 2012 and beat the defending AL champion Texas Rangers in the wild-card. Now it’s time to prove that sensational season wasn’t just an aberration, but the start of something big in a city that has renewed its love for the long downtrodden Orioles. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) -- Jason Hammel is set to start the Baltimore Orioles' opener at Tampa Bay.

Hammel, who threw five innings in a minor league game Wednesday, is scheduled to start against the Rays' David Price on Tuesday in St. Petersburg, Fla.

"We look it at as one of the five starters. He will be the first guy of the season," manager Buck Showalter said.

Hammel was 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA for the Orioles last season, and pitched Games 1 and 5 in the American League Divisional Series against New York.

"It's an honor," Hammel said. "Very excited. Basically what it means, is I get to be the one to get us off on the right foot. I don't take that lightly. Very confident to come out and win there."

He'll be followed in the Orioles' rotation by Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez.

Hammel missed much of the second half of last season after surgery on his right knee.

The 30-year-old right-hander has only pitched in three major league games this month because Showalter wanted to avoid using him against American League East rivals.

"I'm very happy to say I made it through healthy," Hammel said. "That was my main concern after last year. It was the first time I dealt with an injury that long and I feel like I've come back stronger from it. I may not have pitched in many Grapefruit League games, but I was able to get the work in I needed to."

Showalter declined to reveal his fourth and fifth starters. Chris Tillman will probably be one of them, and Jake Arrieta is in the lead for the other.

The Orioles reassigned their No. 1 draft choice from last year, Kevin Gausman to minor league camp.

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