Showalter speaks after 8-5 loss

SARASOTA, Fla. - Manager Buck Showalter was asked whether Taiwanese left-hander Wei-Yin Chen is assured a spot in the rotation.

“Barring something that could happen,” he replied. “There’s always a way, but barring something outside what we have here, yes.”

Chen served up three home runs today, but Showalter laid partial blame on the conditions. None of the runs were earned on Desmond Jennings’ grand slam following an error by shortstop J.J. Hardy, who dropped the ball as he was removing it from his glove.

“I’d been saying I’ve never seen the wind blow in as much this spring, and we were due for one of those days,” he said. “He should have given up two runs. I thought his fastball was crisper. It’s gotten that way each time out. Something there you can work with. He pitched pretty well for the most part. I think one of those home runs would have been a home run, so try to keep that in mind. Had a double play we’ll turn during the season. A little different conditions.”

“He’s been good. A lot of it has to do with the environment that our players helped to create for him, and the trainers and conditioning guys and everybody. He’s handled the adjustment well and I’m proud of him and our guys for that. We made his path a lot easier, but the biggest adjustment of all is coming next.”

Showalter is referring to Chen pitching in major league ballparks.

“He threw some really good changeups today,” Showalter said. “I know Rick (Adair) was really excited about that. He’s got a good changeup. Just trying to make it a little better.

“It plays well everywhere, but especially in the American League. And it’s a pitch left-handers have to have, unless you’re carrying around the stuff of a guy like (David) Price. It’s been a point of emphasis and he threw some good ones today and his last time out.”

I told you earlier that Matt Lindstrom faced four batters in a minor league intrasquad game, striking out two of them. So far, he’s avoided a trip to the disabled list, but Showalter will check on the reliever’s right hamstring on Monday.

“He felt good. He did well,” Showalter said. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow before we get ready to commit.”

Lindstrom is scheduled to pitch Tuesday against the State College of Florida.

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