Orioles left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada, who is recovering from last May's Tommy John surgery, will make his first minor league rehab start for Triple-A Norfolk on Thursday afternoon at Lehigh Valley.

It will be the first time Wada pitches in a minor league game since last April, when he lasted just 2 2/3 innings in a minor league rehab start for Norfolk.

Wada, a former standout in the Japanese Pacific League who signed a two-year, $8.14 million contract before the 2012 season, has yet to pitch in a regular season game for the Orioles. He can come off the disabled like on May 24, but his rehab stint in the minors can last up to 30 days.

It also begins a 30-day clock in which Wada must join the major league club. There is a clause in Wada's contract that says he can not be optioned to the minors without his approval, so the Orioles couldn't keep him in Norfolk once his minor-league rehab assignment is up unless Wada signs off on that.

He will probably need at least four to five starts to be ready to join the Orioles, who could have a second starting pitcher on the disabled list this week. Miguel Gonzalez went on the 15-day DL on Thursday with a slow healing thumb blister and Wei-Yin Chen will likely join him with a right oblique strain.