TAMPA, FLA. – The results weren’t particularly impressive, but Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen seemed happy with his performance in his first competitive appearance since undergoing offseason surgery to remove bone spurs from his right knee.
Chen worked two innings and allowed two runs on five hits in Tuesday night’s 3-2 Grapefruit League victory over the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field, but the important thing was that he felt comfortable on the mound.
“I felt pretty good,” he said through his interpreter. “It’s been a while since I’ve played in a game, especially in a night game, so I tried to make some adjustments, and I felt pretty good overall.”
He pitched to just three batters in the first inning, but allowed a leadoff single to former Oriole Brian Roberts in the second, then surrendered a string of four straight two-out hits, including a home run to Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli.
“Sometimes the pitches weren’t ideal location-wise,’’ Chen said. “But I made adjustments and overall I felt pretty good. And it’s still Spring Training, so I don’t mind the hits.”
Though Chen said he was happy with the way he felt, he conceded that the knee did feel “different.”
“It does feel somewhat different, but I don’t know how to describe different how,’’ he said. “Compared to last year, I did feel a little more comfortable when I was pitching. So, I was happy about the result, and tried to make my pitches and not to think about that … I just feel comfortable right now.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter also appearaed comfortable after the game.
"OK, he wasn’t as crisp. I thought he was pretty crisp last time out," Showalter said of Chen. "He’ll get better. That’s why they call it spring training. He’s fine. He feels good physically. The knee and everything, that’s fine."
Showalter did not exactly bring his A-team to face the Yankees in the club's first night game of the spring, but the Orioles came back to get Chen off the hook.
Leadoff man David Lough opened the third inning with a triple for his second hit of the game and second baseman Jemile Weeks brought him home with a groundout. The O’s took the lead in the seventh on an RBI single by Quintin Berry and an RBI groundout by Julio Borbon.
The parade of pitchers that followed Chen to the mound held the Yankees at bay the rest of the way. Josh Stinson allowed just a couple of walks over two innings of work and five relievers threw a shutout inning apiece. Brad Brach got the victory and Brock Huntzinger struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth to get the save.
Roberts was making his first appearance against the Orioles after signing with the Yankees over the winter. He spoke to reporters before the game and said that he wished them well and hoped that he would get the opportunity to face them in the American League Championship Series in October.
The Orioles will be back on the road on Wednesday night, traveling to Fort Myers to take on the Minnesota Twins.