Orioles left-hander Wada to begin rehab assignment on Thursday

May 13, 2013 | Luke Jones

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Despite receiving bad news on starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen Monday, the Orioles announced Japanese left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada will begin his long-awaited injury rehab assignment with Triple-A Norfolk.

The 32-year-old will pitch against Lehigh Valley to begin a rehab assignment on Thursday that can last up to 30 days. Signed to a two-year, $8.15 million contract two winters ago, Wada has yet to throw a pitch for the Orioles after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year.

It’s unclear what Wada’s role would be upon joining the club — his contract stipulates he must sign off before being optioned to the minor leagues — but the southpaw has been stretched out as a starter in extended spring training in Sarasota. Wada is eligible to return from the 60-day disabled list on May 30, but manager Buck Showalter has already said the club won’t rush his rehab assignment with the understanding that he hasn’t pitched competitively in well over a year.

Showalter would be the first to tell us speculating on Wada’s role is getting too far ahead of ourselves, but it will be interesting to see whether the Orioles deem him worthy of a rotation spot or would try to figure out a way to use him in a bullpen that already includes lefties Brian Matusz, Troy Patton, and T.J. McFarland.

Of course, Wada needs to continue to show his surgically-repaired elbow is sound while pitching effectively on his rehab assignment.

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