By Dan Connolly
The Baltimore Sun
6:48 PM EDT, August 22, 2012
In an attempt to keep their most consistent pitcher fresh for the stretch run, the Orioles have pushed back rookie lefty Wei-Yin Chen’s next start.
With Thursday’s day off, Chen, who beat the Tigers in Detroit on Sunday, could have pitched with an extra day’s rest this Saturday. Instead, he'll pitch Monday at home against the Chicago White Sox.
Rookie right-hander Miguel Gonzalez will be also pushed back and pitch Tuesday, as a way to limit his innings.
Lefty Zach Britton will start Friday's series opener against the Toronto Blue Jays and right-hander Chris Tillman will pitch Sunday. Saturday's starter is still to be determined, but it will likely be righty Steve Johnson, unless he's needed for extended relief work tonight.
Chen, the Taiwanese left-hander who is accustomed to pitching every sixth day in Japan, has already amassed 151 innings this year in the big leagues after throwing 164 2/3 innings for the Chunichi Dragons in 2011 and a career-high 188 innings for them in 2010.
“We’re just wanting to give him a little bit of a break,” Orioles pitching coach Rick Adair said. “He’s been pushing the envelope more than he is accustomed to. We talked about it and it’s time for him to get some time off to kind of recover.”
Adair said the Orioles don’t have a certain number of innings in mind in which they don’t want him to exceed, or a point where they might shut him down for the season – which is the plan for Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg.
“We’re not going to get into that Strasburg type thing. We don’t know [what is Chen’s innings threshold],” Adair said. “We just have to use good judgment. See how his side [sessions] go. See how he is recovering. And hopefully [shut down] is somewhere in October.”
Chen, through interpreter Tim Lin, said he is “a little bit tired,” but still feels strong.
“This is my first year and I am still a rookie, so I need to allow for an adjustment here,” Chen said. “I really appreciate Buck and the pitching coach giving me extra days to rest and be ready for my next start. I promise I’ll get ready and I’ll be ready for the next start.”
Chen is 12-7 with a 3.87 ERA and 122 strikeouts.
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