Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen, who left Sunday's game in Minnesota with a strained right oblique muscle, is expected to be placed on the 15-day disabled list prior to Tuesday night's game against the San Diego Padres in Baltimore.
Oblique strains can potentially keep pitchers out for long stretches and Orioles general manager Dan Duquette conceded that Chen likely won't be ready when he is eligible to come off the DL.
"It'll be the full 15 days, probably a little bit more than that," Duquette said on WBAL radio Monday night. "It depends on how he comes along, but generally it takes a couple of weeks to heal and then some time to return to prime-time throwing."
The Orioles already have starter Miguel Gonzalez on the DL, but they won't need another pitcher for their rotation until Saturday because of off days on Monday and Thursday.
The prime candidates to replace Chen appear to be Steve Johnson, who went 4-0 with Baltimore last year but got bombed on Saturday in his first major league start this season and was immediately sent back to Class AAA Norfolk, or one-time All-Star Jair Jurrjens, also at Norfolk, who had been among the International League leaders in ERA before being roughed up on Monday.
"I think we've got some good candidates," Duquette said.
The Orioles have another starting pitcher who may become a candidate to fill future vacancies. Tsuyoshi Wada, a Japanese free-agent signing before the 2012 season who had ligament-replacement surgery a year ago, is scheduled to make his first official minor league rehab start for Norfolk on Thursday. Duquette said Wada has been throwing the ball well in extended spring training.
"I think after a few starts we'll know if he'll be able to contribute to this year's club," Duquette said.
The Orioles optioned reliever Mike Belfiore back to Norfolk on Monday. They had recalled the left-hander before Sunday's game but he did not pitch.