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WASHINGTON — As rookie right-hander Kevin Gausman was making his second major league start on Tuesday night, the Orioles continue to wait patiently on the recovery of left-hander Wei-Yin Chen.
Chen was eligible to return from the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday, but the Taiwanese southpaw has yet to pick up a baseball as he rehabs a strained right oblique injury in Sarasota. The 27-year-old exited his start in Minnesota on May 12 after throwing five shutout innings and was officially placed on the disabled list two days later.
Oblique injuries are problematic with a high rate of setbacks because it’s difficult for training staffs to determine whether the muscle has truly healed until the player begins throwing again. Manager Buck Showalter and Chen both expressed the need to be cautious to make sure the lefty is healthy for the duration of the season.
“There’s a little progress, but not anything big,” Showalter said. “Little by little. It’s so hard to handicap that, but he’s doing OK.”
Chen is 3-3 with a 3.04 earned run average in eight starts covering 47 1/3 innings this season and had been the club’s most consistent starter at the time of the injury.
In other injury-related news, second baseman Brian Roberts has begun hitting off a tee and is on schedule for the projected six-week recovery laid out after he underwent surgery on his right hamstring nearly three weeks ago.
“He’s on schedule,” Showalter said. “He started increasing his baseball activities, his tee work, and soft toss, and he felt fine. I know him, he wants it to happen tomorrow, but I don’t think it’s ‘if,’ it’s ‘when’ with Brian.”
Infielder Wilson Betemit has finally begun some baseball-related activity as he is now playing catch and could continue to increase his level of activity. He has been sidelined since March with a Grade 2/3 PCL tear in his right knee and originally expressed hope that he would return in eight weeks.
With the Orioles struggling to find production at the designated hitter spot for much of the season, Betemit would be an ideal option against right-handed pitching after batting .302 and posting an .859 on-base plus slugging percentage against right-handed hurlers last season.
“Wilson’s a little bit of a forgotten guy in this [lineup],” Showalter said. “He did a lot of good things for us last year and we’re looking forward to getting him back.”
Backup catcher Taylor Teagarden (left thumb) caught five innings in an extended spring game on Monday and could be ready to go on a minor-league rehab assignment within the next few days. He will catch once again on Wednesday after serving as the DH in Tuesday’s extended spring training contest.
Infield prospect Jonathan Schoop will get a second opinion on his lower back in California on Wednesday after executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette revealed last week that the 21-year-old is dealing with a stress fracture in his back. That type of injury would likely keep Schoop sidelined until after the All-Star break, according to the initial prognosis.