NEW YORK -- Orioles pitcher Jason Hammel, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on his right knee, is nearing a return to baseball activities, and the team is still tentatively targeting an early September return.

"It could be potentially a tad better than that, could be a little worse than that," manager Buck Showalter said prior to Wednesday's game. "We'll see. I think we'll know more when he actually starts throwing the ball and driving down off of [that leg]."

Showalter said Hammel, who last pitched July 13, is already asking for extra rooms for the team's upcoming road trips, which is an encouraging sign. He will need several rehab starts before being activated, but the 29-year-old Hammel would certainly provide a boost to the Orioles' rotation. A Final Vote All-Star Candidate, Hammel is 8-6 with a 3.54 ERA in 18 games.

"I look at it more as a case of when as opposed to if," Showalter said of Hammel's return. "It will be a shot in the arm for us."

Meanwhile, outfielder Nolan Reimold is going to Jacksonvile, Fla., to be with his family and continue his rehab. Reimold, who had season-ending neck surgery, is progressing well, and the team is optimistic he will be healthy by next spring.

Quintanilla's bat presents nice problem for O's

NEW YORK -- When the Orioles acquired Omar Quintanilla from the New York Mets on July 20, the move was seen as an addition of a defense-first infielder who could help bridge the gap with Baltimore missing Brian Roberts and Robert Andino.

But Quintanilla has added more than a steady glove, entering Wednesday's game hitting .406 with a homer and five RBIs for Baltimore, including a seven-game hitting streak that has the 30-year-old playing even with Andino's return.

"It would be easy to say now we knew exactly what [we were getting]," manager Buck Showalter said of Quintanilla's bat. "Yeah, [I'm surprised] somewhat. We had an open mind about it. He's got some track record of having success. ... If you look at the on-base percentage of the last two, three weeks he played with the Mets -- it was good.

"He's a very hungry guy. He's got a real intensity about him. I can't say I knew exactly, but I trusted our people and we did a lot of homework on him. It doesn't surprise me that he approaches the game the way that he does."

Quintanilla entered Wednesday hitting .462 with two doubles, a homer, four RBIs and four runs scored over his hitting streak, and he tied a career high with three hits on Sunday. Showalter said Andino would start Friday's series opener in Tampa Bay, and it's a good problem for the Orioles to have a little competition at second base.

Tuesday night's start, with Andino coming off the DL earlier in the day, caught Quintanilla a little off-guard.

"I was surprised," Quintanilla said. "Andino is a good player. I don't know what's going to happen. I don't make the decisions, but I'm thinking we're both going to be ready to play every day when they need us."