MINNEAPOLIS - Orioles manager Buck Showalter spent most of his postgame session with the media this afternoon talking about Wei-Yin Chen’s injury and whether it’s regarded as serious at this point.
Showalter is being optimistic. That’s the only approach he’s going to take until finding out more about the injury on Monday.
“I was just talking to him about it,” Showalter said following a 6-0 victory over the Twins. “He just felt it the last two or three pitches. I didn’t hear oblique, I’m hearing a cramp maybe. Richie (Bancells) thinks it’s going to be one or the other. We’ll take a look at it tomorrow and see where we are, get an evaluation. I’m only thinking good things.”
That means no speculation on replacements if Chen is forced to go on the disabled list.
“Let’s wait and see,” Showalter said. “I’m not going to get into the options. Regardless of what happens, we feel like we have some people below who are capable of helping us. I hope we don’t have to do that. I’m going to think good things. I was just telling Wei-Yin that.
“It feels a little better now. Hopefully, it was a cramp. You guys know the experience with this, what the percentages probably lay with, but I try not to get into that half-empty thing. I’m expecting something good, and we’ll go from there and make the adjustment if we don’t. We know we need one starter. Just hope we don’t need two more.”
Chen threw five scoreless innings, but he didn’t bring his best stuff to Target Field.
“His breaking ball and changeup weren’t there, command of it. And when he did throw it in there, it was a mistake,” Showalter said. “You see left-handed hitters, 3-2 count, and they haven’t seen a breaking pitch the whole at-bat be right on it like (Justin) Morneau was... He was pitching all fastballs. Maybe that’s a tribute to him. He deserved a W in a shortened look. There were some zeros up there, so you’ve got to figure he was doing something right.”
Chris Davis gave the Orioles a quick 2-0 lead with his home run in the first inning.
“That was a big blow for us. It’s just, OK, jump out there and give Wei-Yin a little bit of a cushion,” Showalter said.
“He was basically pitching with his fastball today. I thought we were fortunate. We made some good defensive plays behind him. Getting back out there and getting some zeros on the board, the momentum kind of went from there.”
The Orioles are looking forward to getting back home. They’ve spent enough time on the road over these first two months.
“We’ve just got so many bridges to cross, but you look at the schedule when the season starts, you look at this stretch and you know it’s going to be a challenge, especially the teams we’re playing,” Showalter said. “Minnesota beat us two out of three at our place. They’re lethal offensively. I think we caught them. ... They had to use a lot of people in Boston to get through that series.
“It should be a good off-day for our guys. We should get back at a decent hour, and I’m happy for them there. They deserve it. Been a real grind for them for the last three weeks.”
Showalter also talked about Jake Arrieta’s situation at Triple-A Norfolk. Arrieta missed his start today because of a strained right shoulder. Showalter said Arrieta “didn’t feel right” after his last outing.
“I don’t know if he’ll miss a whole turn or just to give him a couple of extra days, because the people we’ve been taking from them, they don’t have the luxury of having six starters or whatever,” Showalter said. “We just took a bullpen guy from them. I don’t know. Maybe (Tsuyoshi) Wada is headed that way. I don’t know where Dan (Duquette) is going to end up sending him.
“They’ve tested it and the whole nine yards, throwing. It’s something they have some concern with, but it’s nothing right now that they’re overly concerned with at this point. But it’s not normal.”
Chris Snyder caught Chen for the first time today. He singled, walked and threw out a runner trying to steal.
“He was bouncing a lot of breaking balls, and we really had to work in and out with the fastball,” Snyder said. “He threw a couple good change-ups. He’d get deep into counts, but when it came time to make a pitch, he made a pitch.
“That was my first time with him, but I think it went fairly well. A shutout’s a shutout. I’ll take it.”
Snyder noticed that Chen appeared to be in pain after Chris Parmelee grounded out in the fifth inning. Chen had two more batters to face before exiting.
“After the Parmelee groundout, that was the one I think he was a little deliberate around the mound,” Snyder said. “He was able to work his way out of it. I’m not sure what happened after that. Like I said, he grinded and got out of the inning.”
Davis voiced his concern over Chen.
“You don’t want to see anyone leave the game for any reason, but especially when he’s pitching that well,” Davis said. “Hopefully, it’s nothing serious. He was just in a groove today. He looked like his old self. I was just glad to see him throw the ball well.”
If Chen goes on the disabled list, the Orioles will need to replace two starters. Steve Johnson could be recalled before the 10-day minimum requirement after being optioned last night. Jair Jurrens, who’s scheduled to start Monday for Norfolk, is another possibility.
“I don’t even want to think about it,” Davis said. “That’s one thing we’re really trying to get squared away is our pitching staff. Trying to get some guys in here, throw some innings, eat up some innings and take some pressure off our bullpen. That’s what he was doing today. So, I don’t even want to go there with that.”
On a happier note, Manny Machado could become the fourth Oriole to collect three hits in four straight games, joining Cal Ripken, Eddie Murray and Don Buford.
“That would be awesome,” he said. “That would be pretty cool to be in that category. You have Hall of Famers there, so to be in the same category with them would be a blessing.”
Machado had nine hits in the series and raised his average to .331.
“Things are going right,” he said. “It’s one of those times when things are falling for you and everything is going good. Things have been going pretty good for me.
“I’ve been feeling the best I’ve felt at the plate for a long time. I’m very comfortable, and the more at-bats, the more pitches I see, the more comfortable I get up there, and then the better at-bats I get. It just keeps piling up.”
Machado is batting .406 in his last 19 games. Ridiculous?
“Very,” he replied. “I’m not even paying much attention to it. I don’t look up there and see what I’m hitting. I’m just going up there and trying to help this team win whatever way. Just trying to hit the ball and catch the outs.”