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O's pick Hammel as Opening Day starter

The SportsXchange

In his eighth season as a major league starter, right-hander Jason Hammel will make his first Opening Day start.

Hammel will lead the Baltimore Orioles against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday in St. Petersburg, Fla., manager Buck Showalter announced Wednesday.

"It's an honor. Very excited," Hammel told reporters. "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."

Hammel made 20 starts last year, going 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA. He missed most of the season's second half due to a knee injury.

Left-hander Wei-Yin Chen and right-hander Miguel Gonzalez will pitch the remainder of the Rays series, but the Baltimore rotation is uncertain after that. Chris Tillman and Jake Arrieta are the front-runners, though Tillman has a sore abdomen that could force him to spend the season's first week on the disabled list, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Left-hander Brian Matusz and right-hander Jair Jurrjens are also potential starters.

Right-hander Steve Johnson also might land on the disabled list due to a lat muscle strain, according to the Sun.

Right-hander Tommy Hunter, a former starter, will open the season in the bullpen.

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