Chen returns to home clubhouse, gets set for his rehab start

Left-hander Wei-Yin Chen has not pitched for the Orioles since May 12 at Minnesota. But if his rehab keeps progressing, he could return to the rotation possibly to start on July 4 at Chicago.

The plan detailed here yesterday for Chen remains the same. He is expected to pitch for an O's affiliate - the specific one hasn't been determined yet - this Saturday and that could him set him up to return to the club.

He's been out with a strained right oblique. He went on the disabled list May 14, retroactive to the previous day. Chen was back in the O's home clubhouse today after pitching in two simulated games in Sarasota.

"I'm going to throw a bullpen session tomorrow and start my rehab assignment on Saturday," Chen said this afternoon through his interpreter. "I'm not sure whether I'm going to throw in maybe Frederick or Norfolk, not sure where. Just want to do my best. If everything goes well Saturday, I can come back really soon."

How close does he feel to a return to his usual pitching form?

"I cannot tell exactly right now," Chen said. "Feel like I am pitching in spring training. Step by step. But if I feel really good next outing, I will definitely come back soon."

In eight starts, Chen is 3-3 with a 3.04 ERA. He has pitched in just 47 1/3 innings, but an O's rotation that ranks next to last in the league in ERA could use him.

Is his injury issue completely over at this point?

"It doesn't bother me when I play catch or pitch in the games. It is definitely a pain-free situation right now," Chen said.

"I'm extremely happy to be back with the team. The rehab is so long, happy to get back as soon as possible."

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