SARASOTA, Fla. - Wei-Yin Chen made his final start today before taking the ball for the second game of the regular season at Tropicana Field. He faced the Tampa Bay Rays, but the Triple-A version.
Chen threw 82 pitches in five innings and allowed a run on Brandon Guyer’s homer to center field. He issued one walk.
“This was a really good accomplishment,” Chen said through his interpreter, Tim Lin. “I feel like I accomplished something today. The first two innings, I couldn’t feel anything, probably because I was pitching in the minor leagues, but after the third inning, I felt like I turned my game around and everything was great.”
The Rays lineup was legit and included top prospect Wil Myers, former first overall draft pick Tim Beckham and Shelley Duncan.
“Once my game came along and I feel like this is a real game and I’m pitching in a game, it doesn’t matter if it’s minor leagues or major leagues, and I feel great today,” Chen said. “Plus, in five days the season will be starting and I’m ready for that.”
Chen pitched in three Grapefruit League games this spring, most recently on March 23 against the Philadelphia Phillies, when he allowed seven runs (six earned) and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings.
“I’m ready for the season,” he said. “I’m in my best shape and best condition right now, so everything will be fine and I’m looking forward to the season.”
This camp has been much easier for Chen after going through spring training last year and getting acclimated to life in the U.S. He’s also in excellent physical condition after working out with Brady Anderson over the winter.
“Definitely,” he said. “I feel stronger this year and I feel like it’s easier this whole spring training, just because I have experience from last year. This year is so much easier for me to prepare, to make adjustments.”
Chen threw all of his pitches today and was especially pleased with his heater.
“Definitely it was my fastball,” he said. “My fastball is my best tool to get hitters out and I feel like my fastball had life today compared with my last outings, and it was working a lot.”
Except during one of Guyer’s at-bats, which concluded with the long home run.
“My fastball,” he said, grinning. “And a mistake.”