PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - The Baltimore Orioles are hoping for big things from Wei-Yin Chen in 2013. Last year, Chen was the team's only double-digit winner, and after they carefully monitored his workload in his first season in the U.S., the Orioles are still being cautious.
In 2012, manager Buck Showalter gave him extra days off when he could, and it paid off. This year, he didn't give his leading winner a start until the second week of exhibition games.
Chen allowed two hits in two innings against the Tampa Bay Rays and said he was pleased with his first outing.
"I'm feeling pretty satisfied for today," Chen said through his interpreter. "I'm really excited. I feel really good. It's been too long for me."
He probably won't start against Tampa Bay on April 2 to open the season, but could pitch in the second game. Jason Hammel, who may pitch in the opener, started on Friday.
"I think my command and breaking ball control is getting better and better this year," Chen said.
The Taiwanese native pitched for four seasons in Japan, where pitchers typically get an extra day of rest. He adapted well to a five-man rotation in the United States.
"We're still easing him in," Showalter said.
MATUSZ SHAKY: Brian Matusz allowed back-to-back home runs in the Orioles' 4-1 loss to the Rays before 4,696 at Charlotte Sports Park on Saturday.
Matusz, who would like to return to the starting rotation after an effective stint in the bullpen late last season, pitched a perfect third inning, then allowed a two-run home run by Yunel Escobar followed by one from Ryan Roberts.
Sean Rodriguez hit one off Tommy Hunter in the fifth inning.
The Orioles, who are now 6-2, scored their only run in the sixth on a triple by Manny Machado, and a single by Jason Pridie.
REIMOLD RESTS: A day after coming out of Friday's game after two innings, Nolan Reimold is resting his sore shoulder. Reimold hit a home run, and then exited the game after alerting Showalter the shoulder was bothering him.
He says it's nothing serious.
"Shouldn't be very long. I can swing. I can do everything. I don't want to do something stupid in spring training," Reimold said.
It's natural to be concerned about Reimold since he hasn't played since neck surgery last June.
"At this point, we don't think it's related to the surgery," Showalter said. "I appreciated him saying something. He knows we've got a lot of time down here."
QUITE A SWITCH: Henry Urrutia, the 26-year-old Cuban defector, who was signed by the Orioles last July for $778,500, finally reported to Sarasota this week for his physical. Urrutia was given a work visa this week after being stuck in Haiti.
Showalter reported that Urrutia is no longer a switch-hitter, and is now a left-handed hitter.
"He lost it somewhere between Cuba, the Dominican and Haiti," Showalter joked. "I don't know if we get a discount."
WADA THROWS AGAIN: Showalter continues to be encouraged by Tsuyoshi Wada's progress. He threw his third bullpen session of the week, about 30 pitches.
He's not sure what the next step in Wada's recovery from Tommy John surgery is.
"I'm really encouraged with what's going on with him," Showalter said.
COMING UP: The Orioles host the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday. Chris Tillman will start, and Miguel Gonzalez will follow. It will be Gonzalez's first appearance of the season. Todd Redmond, Dylan Bundy, Pedro Strop and Adam Russell are also scheduled to pitch against Kyle Kendrick, Justin De Fratus, Jake Diekman and B.J. Rosenberg.
ODDS AND ENDS: Showalter said there may be a few cuts coming in the next couple of days. ... The Orioles struck out 10 times against the Rays. Alex Cobb struck out five in his three innings. ... After a week of games, Steve Pearce has the most hits, six.