FREDERICK, Md. – It was an unusual setting for a most unusual scenario. The Orioles’ winningest pitcher of 2014, fresh off eight innings of shutout ball against the Philadelphia Phillies, pitching in front of a minor league crowd much more eager to see the “Cowboy Monkey Rodeo” than him.
Wei-Yin Chen threw 35 pitches in three innings for the Frederick Keys against the Wilmington Blue Rocks on Saturday night and allowed just one hit, striking out two.
Chen was optioned to the Keys on Tuesday, ostensibly to keep him fresh. But, the Orioles also wanted to keep him from pitching in Toronto’s Rogers Centre, where he’s pitched rarely and not very well, and Fenway Park, where he’s had mixed success.
After he was optioned, he took to Twitter to write in English how disappointed he was.
On Tuesday, manager Buck Showalter said that he had spoken with Chen, and that he understood the move. Chen would be back with the Orioles on June 26, 10 days after he was optioned, and he’d make a short start here.
Five days later, Chen, accompanied by his usual translator, Louis Chao, addressed those comments for the first time.
“Nobody would be happy to get sent down when you’re feeling great and up there pitching a great game. We talked, me and Buck, we talked and I accepted it. I was disappointed but I accepted the decision because I think, I believe the team had good reason,” Chen said.
“After I got sent down here, I think that we better just leave it in the past. Just move on and get myself ready. My only focus is to help this team win a championship.”
Chen breezed through three innings, and allowed only a first inning double.
“I didn’t really do anything different. I just tried to stay the same and get myself ready to pitch back in the major leagues,” Chen said.
Shortly after Chen finished his start, rain began falling and the game at Nymeo Field was suspended after four innings, but not before the rodeo performed in the outfield.
“I just tried to do my best to do my routine and stay with the same feeling I was feeling. The team said they wanted me to have some rest, so I get a short start, All I can do is do my routine the best that I can,” Chen said.
He wasn’t worried about being skipped in Toronto or Boston.
“Maybe during the past, I didn’t have very great numbers against those teams. As a player, all you need to try to focus on the game and try to perform your best. I don’t really worry about how well they hit me in the past. Every time I go out there, I try to win. I try to beat them. I don’t even worry about those kind of things,” Chen said.
Between now and next Friday, Chen will throw another bullpen, perhaps at Bowie in preparation for his scheduled start against Cleveland.
In English, Chen briefly joked that the rain and the setting for his interview in an indoor batting cage reminded him of Sarasota, but he clearly is eager to get back to the Orioles.
There are no hard feelings, he insists.
“I’m not worried about that. We’ve all got emotions, and the reason that I tweeted that is only because I wanted to make a point that I was healthy and ready to pitch. I don’t worry about anything between me and the Orioles,” Chen said.
“Let’s just leave the past in the past. I believe my teammates, they’re doing well now. Now, I really want to go back and pitch with them in the major leagues. I don’t think there’s any regret. I just won’t make any further comments about this. That’s it. It’s in the past, and we’ll just move on.”