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09/17/12 11:50 PM ET

Thome closing in on return to Orioles

SEATTLE -- Orioles designated hitter Jim Thome took five or six at-bats in a simulated game at the team's spring facility in Sarasota, Fla., on Monday as the veteran nears a return from a herniated disk in his neck.

"We'd love to get him back," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Thome, who has been sidelined since late July. "Especially with Wilson [Betemit] being out. But we won't see him before Thursday, that's for sure."

The plan is for Thome to go through another simulated game on Tuesday and, assuming all goes well, play in an instructional league game on Wednesday. Acquired from the Phillies in a July 1 trade, Thome hit .261 with two homers and six RBIs in 18 games with the Orioles, and his return would help bolster a lineup already dealing with the loss of Betemit and Nick Markakis, who's likely out the remainder of the season following thumb surgery.

"We'd love to get [Thome] back first for his ability, and also it certainly doesn't hurt with his pedigree and background, the things he's been exposed to," Showalter said. "He'd be another guy who would really give us a needed presence these last 16 games."

While there's nothing new on Markakis, who is still waiting for the pins left to removed from his left thumb, the team did get some good news on Betemit Monday in that he will not need left wrist surgery. Betemit, who already has been on the DL with the injury, aggravated it over the weekend and the immediate plan is for him to get a cortisone shot and let the area calm down.

Orioles being cautious with Hammel

SEATTLE -- The Orioles continue to take a wait-and-see approach with right-handed pitcher Jason Hammel, who is resting and rehabbing his right knee after Thursday's MRI exam showed no additional damage but some "hot spots" from scar tissue.

"Slow," manager Buck Showalter of the progress with Hammel. "[It's] not imminent that he moves to another step yet."

The 30-year-old Hammel aggravated his surgically repaired knee in his second start back from the disabled list earlier this month, and the team remains hopeful he will start again this season.

"Oh sure, I'm optimistic," Showalter said. "We just haven't had anything where, 'Hey, this feels pretty good, let's start throwing,' yet. We haven't gotten the discomfort out of there yet."

Hammel, who has played catch since his MRI exam, is 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 20 starts despite being hampered by knee issues the past three months.

Reimold on track to be 100 percent this spring

BALTIMORE -- It looks as if Nolan Reimold will have a regular offseason, as the 28-year-old Orioles outfielder is about two weeks away from being fully released from his rehab regimen.

"He's got mostly all of his strength back," manager Buck Showalter said of Reimold, who had season-ending neck surgery to remove a bulging disk and fuses his spine on June 25. "That's going well. He's got X-percentage, I'm not going to give it out publicly, but his strength is about X-percent back, which is well above average, so he is getting there."

Reimold, the team's Opening Day left fielder, hit .313, with five homers and 10 RBIs, posting a .627 slugging percentage in 67 at-bats before hitting the disabled list. He last played April 30 and the team is hopeful he will be a full-go in next year's Spring Training.

"That would be a big step if we can get through these two weeks," Showalter said. "Unless they think he needs more, but the way he is now, they think he could be released in two weeks and get on with a normal offseason, whatever that happens to be."

Reimold is currently rehabbing at his Florida home.


• The Orioles rotation following Chris Tillman is Wei-Yin Chen and Joe Saunders with Miguel Gonzalez tentatively slated for the first game in Boston. The O's are being cautious in limiting Gonzalez's innings and Showalter said as long as he looks OK in his side session, Gonzalez figures to start Friday at Fenway Park.

• Reliever Troy Patton (right ankle sprain) will throw again in the instructional league Tuesday, his second rehab game down in Sarasota. Showalter said the team will decide the next step for Patton after that, although the team is hoping to see some better command from him this next time out.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.