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The news wasn’t good for Orioles pitcher Wei-Yin Chen on Monday as the left-hander is on his way to the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique.
Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette told multiple reporters the injury suffered in Sunday’s win over the Minnesota Twins is indeed an oblique injury that will sideline him for the foreseeable future. Manager Buck Showalter had expressed hope following Sunday’s game that it was just a cramp.
Chen was seen holding his right side after recording the final out of the fifth inning and was replaced by right-hander Tommy Hunter in the sixth inning. The Taiwanese southpaw pitched five shutout innings and was lifted after throwing just 73 pitches.
He was re-evaluated on Monday, which was the first of two days off for the Orioles this week. The injury leaves Baltimore with just three healthy starters in their current rotation and will force Showalter and Duquette to once again look to the minor leagues for starter help.
Oblique strains typically lead to longer DL stints than the 15-day minimum and can flare up easily if a pitcher tries to return too early.
Already dealing with starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez on the 15-day DL due to a blister on his right thumb, the Orioles can make it to Saturday before needing an additional starter behind Chris Tillman, Jason Hammel, and Freddy Garcia. Right-handed pitcher Jair Jurrjens started for Triple-A Norfolk on Monday — allowing five earned runs in seven innings of work — and would be working on regular rest for a potential promotion to make Saturday’s start in Baltimore.
The club could also turn to right-hander Steve Johnson, who would be eligible to be recalled prior to the end of the normal 10-day waiting period if he were to take Chen’s spot because of an injury. Johnson was optioned back to Norfolk following his rough start in Minnesota on Saturday night.
The Orioles hope to see Gonzalez make a rehab start later this week, but a scheduled bullpen session at Target Field this weekend was pushed back to give his blister more time to heal. Gonzalez is eligible to return from the DL next Sunday, but it’s looking more like he’ll need at least an extra day or two after that before rejoining the Baltimore rotation and that’s assuming there are no more setbacks.
In addition to Chen’s oblique strain, Norfolk right-hander Jake Arrieta was scratched from Sunday’s start due to right shoulder tenderness. According to Showalter, Arrieta’s shoulder has bothered him for a few days and it remains unclear whether he’ll simply be pushed back a few days or skipped in the Tides rotation altogether. Concern doesn’t appear to be too high at this point, but shoulder soreness for a pitcher is clearly something a club never wants to hear.
Showalter told reporters prior to Sunday’s game that the club was considering recalling Arrieta instead of left-hander Mike Belfiore for extra bullpen help after starters pitched just 13 innings in Minnesota, but Arrieta’s tender shoulder changed that plan.
Belfiore was optioned back to Norfolk on Monday afternoon, with no corresponding move expected to be made until Tuesday.