Chen, who returned to the club Tuesday after rehabbing in Sarasota, Fla., is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Wednesday before heading out on a rehab assignment Saturday. After one start in the minors, he could be activated from the disabled list and back on the Orioles’ roster.
“I’m extremely happy to be back to the team,” Chen said through interpreter Tim Lin. “It’s been so long, and the rehab took so long, I’m so happy I can get back as soon as possible.”
Chen hasn’t pitched since May 12, when he threw five shutout innings against Minnesota before leaving with the oblique injury. He’s 3-3 with a 3.04 ERA this season.
Manager Buck Showalter said a decision hadn’t been made on Chen’s rehab destination. Triple-A Norfolk, Double-A Bowie and High-A Frederick all have home games Saturday, so any of those teams could be in play. No matter where he goes, Chen will throw five to six innings.
“Anxious to get him back,” Showalter said. “I hope everything goes well and we’re trying to decide if we want to bring him back after that first rehab start.”
Showalter said Chen could start twice before the All-Star Break if he needs only one rehab start in the minors. The possibility of starting Chen three times exists, but Showalter said the team would want to give him an extra day of rest between starts at some point.
Chen said he feels like he’s pitching in spring training and his return is “step-by-step.”
Chen’s seemingly imminent return comes at a fortunate time for the Orioles, too. The team optioned right-hander Freddy Garcia to Triple-A Norfolk on Monday, and 11 pitchers have made starts for the Orioles this season. Chen, who went 12-11 with a 4.02 ERA in 2012, could provide a steadying presence when he’s ready.
“Once I feel good, I can tell you I definitely will come back as soon as possible,” Chen said.