Left-hander Wei-Yin Chen is hoping that the pain in his right side that caused him to leave Sunday’s 6-0 Orioles win after five shutout innings was a simple cramp and not a right oblique strain as it was initially diagnosed by the team.
If it’s just a cramp, Chen, who will be re-evaluated Monday in Baltimore, would likely make his next start. If it’s the dreaded oblique strain, he likely will be heading to the disabled list for the first time as a big leaguer.
“I don’t think [a DL stint] happens. It’s not that serious to me,” Chen said through interpreter Tim Lin. “I think it’s just a cramp and we’ll see what’s going to happen” Monday.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter also tried to think positively — especially considering he needs at last one more starter next week to fill in for the injured Miguel Gonzalez.
“Hopefully it was a cramp. You guys know the experience with this, what the percentages probably lay with, but I try not to get into that half-empty thing,” Showalter said. “I'm expecting something good and we'll go from there and make the adjustment if we don't. We know we need one starter. Just hope we don't need two more.”
Chen said he had “a weird feeling” while pitching against the last batter he faced in the fifth, Minnesota shortstop Eduardo Escobar. On his 73rd and final pitch — on which Escobar grounded out — Chen felt a more intense soreness.
“I finished the delivery and started feeling ‘maybe that’s a cramp on me,’” said Chen, who added that he wasn’t in any pain after the game. “I don’t know. We’ll see what happens” Monday.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Chen was audibly in distress after that pitch.
“We heard him yelling on the mound after the fifth inning,” Gardenhire said.
Chen, 27, made 32 starts in 2012 — the only Orioles pitcher to make more than 20 starts last season. He is 3-3 with a 3.04 ERA in eight starts this year.