Chen gave up four runs to the Harrisburg Senators in the fourth -- two of them on a ground ball down the third base line that wasn’t hit particularly hard -- and chalked that one-inning lapse up a problem locating his breaking ball early in some counts.
He threw 79 pitches and said through interpreter Tim Lin that he was totally pain-free and wasn’t concerned about his endurance going forward.
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“I felt pretty good today,’’ Chen said. “Everything worked and [though] it seemed like the fourth inning was a big inning for me, I was just working things out and it wasn’t a problem for me.”
He deferred to manager Buck Showalter on whether he might move right back into the rotation after missing six weeks with a strained right oblique, but the Orioles aren’t likely to leave too many of his innings at the Double-A level. The club officials who were at Prince Georges Stadium to watch him seemed pleased with his velocity and overall command.
“To me, personally, I’m ready to go and I think I can make my next start,’’ he said. “That’s Buck’s call. I have to talk to Buck first and make a decision, so right now I’m just going to get ready for my next start.”
Maybe it’s too soon to draw any conclusions, but the Orioles suddenly appear to have enough rotation options to calm any sense of urgency to make a trade for another starting pitcher. The return of Chen and the back-to-back solid outings by Kevin Gausman and Zach Britton this weekend leave Showalter with six available starters.