DUNEDIN, Fla. — The Orioles had a choice on whether to throw offseason acquisition Wei-Yin Chen into his first Grapefruit League road start Monday afternoon or have him stay in Sarasota for a simulated game.
Chen, a 26-year-old Taiwanese free agent who pitched in Japan the past four years, has much to get adjusted to this spring, so the Orioles figured this was the time to get him his first road pitching assignment in the U.S.
“There are so many different things he’s been exposed to,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Now he’s pitched on the road. I think it’s more important with his development, just everything, that he can get exposed to what he’s going to be challenged with.
“At this point, I think he benefits more from pitching in this environment.”
For Chen, who was signed this offseason to a three-year, $11.338 million deal, it was about adjusting to the Florida heat, working on the location of his two-seam fastball and his offspeed pitches.
Chen had some rough stretches through his three innings of work, allowing one run and two hits over three innings of work in the Orioles' 4-1 loss to the Blue Jays on Monday at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. He consistently was working into deep counts and threw just 29 strikes out of his 52 pitches.
“He didn’t miss by much,” Showalter said. “It's part of the process, third or fourth outing. [He's] got five or six more. Everything’s fine with him.”
Right-hander Armando Galarraga, one of a dozen pitchers competing for the Orioles’ five rotation spots, allowed three earned runs, allowing two hits, walking three and striking out two over two innings – with all of the damage coming in Toronto’s three-run fourth inning.
Jon Link and Pat Neshek threw scoreless innings for the Orioles.
Orioles shortstop Ryan Flaherty, competing for a utility spot, drove in the only Orioles' run on a double to right field in the seventh inning, scoring Joe Mahoney from first.