Orioles manager Buck Showalter placed left-hander Wei-Yin Chen in the starting rotation’s No. 5 spot so he could get adjusted to all the nuances of the major leagues before stepping onto the mound.
“I’m living the dream right now because I used to watch the games on TV and now I can be here and be with the Orioles and watch the game,” Chen said, through an interpreter, of watching the past three games from the dugout. “This is amazing here.”
His wait will be over Tuesday, when Taiwan native who spent the past four seasons pitching in the Japanese Central League will make his big league debut against the New York Yankees.
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Chen acknowledged he’s nervous about his first start. The Yankees have a large following in Taiwan because of former Yankees pitcher Chien-Ming Wang. Names like Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter are popular there.
Showalter has lauded Chen’s steady demeanor and his resume of having pitched under other critical spotlights.
“Looking at some of the tape on him, this guy has pitched in big venues, big crowds, meaningful games,” Showalter said. “We think our games are more meaningful, but pitching in the Asian games and the Olympics, pitching in Japan, the playoffs, there’s a lot of relevancy to it. But this is still a little different stage for them, especially when you consider the environment and the soil that they are pitching on."
And after getting adjusted to American baseball for seven weeks at spring training, Chen has noticed the difference between then and the pressure-cooker of the regular season.
“It’s definitely different,” Chen said. “In spring training, everyone is doing their job and making adjustments a little bit. Here, everyone wants to win. Tomorrow, I want to win, too.”
Click HERE to read a feature on Chen in this past Sunday's Baltimore Sun.