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BALTIMORE — Starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen still has hurdles to clear in his recovery from a strained right oblique, but the hope is he will return to make at least a start or two prior to the All-Star break.
The left-hander threw off a full mound Saturday in Sarasota for the first time since the oblique injury occurred in a start against the Minnesota Twins on May 12. Chen threw 35 pitches without any reported discomfort or pain, according to manager Buck Showalter.
“We’ve kind of got his schedule mapped out now, so that’s good,” Showalter said. “I’m going to go over it with [executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette] out on the field and hopefully we’ll proceed with that.”
The Orioles had planned to have Chen accompany them on this week’s road trip to Detroit and Toronto, but it appears they will at least have Chen pitch in a simulated game in Sarasota before he takes the next step of either rejoining the club for a bullpen session or two or beginning a minor-league rehab assignment.
Showalter has a step-by-step plan mapped out that culminates with Chen making his return to the mound for the Orioles, but he wants to play specifics close to the vest for now.
“I’ve got the date that if everything goes well that he’ll be pitching for us,” Showalter said. “Hopefully, if things go well, he can make a couple starts before the break, at least. But we’ve got to cross a lot of bridges here.”
Roberts inching closer to rehab assignment as Reimold starts his Tuesday
Injured second baseman Brian Roberts will travel with the Orioles on the next road trip to Detroit and likely Toronto as he continues to take batting practice and ground balls at second base.
Sidelined since April 4 with a right hamstring injury that required surgery in early May, Roberts could begin a minor-league rehab assignment as early as June 24 if everything goes smoothly. Completing a running progression to test his surgically-repaired hamstring has been the final major hurdle in determining when he can return to game action.
Showalter has liked seeing Roberts with the club to closely monitor the final stages of the recovery process after spending the better part of the last two months recovering in Sarasota.
“We all like Sarasota,” Showalter said. “It’s been great for the organization, but it’s not Baltimore and it’s not around your team and your teammates. I think that’s been good for him too.”
Former Orioles hitting coach Terry Crowley will accompany Roberts on his minor-league rehab assignment that isn’t expected to last the full 20-day period a position player is allowed.
Crowley will also accompany outfielder Nolan Reimold when his rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie begins next week.
Showalter expects Reimold’s rehab assignment to be wrapped up prior to Roberts beginning his.
Hammel still under weather
Right-hander Jason Hammel was still under the weather dealing with a virus as the Orioles prepared for the third of a four-game series with the Boston Red Sox on Saturday.
He has been instructed to stay away from Camden Yards in fear of him being contagious, but the Orioles hope to have him back at the ballpark on Sunday to more closely evaluate his status for Monday’s start in Detroit. Showalter remained optimistic that the 30-year-old will take the hill against the Tigers, but nothing is guaranteed until head athletic trainer Richie Bancells gets a better read on his condition Sunday.
“Right now, that’s a little bit of a challenge for us. We’ll see,” said Showalter, who revealed Hammel received some intravenous fluids on Friday. “Right now, I’m planning on him pitching Monday. Talking to Richie, until he gets his arms around it, [we won't know and] we’re not going to bring him in the locker room until he’s past that [contagious] stage.”
Machado in historic company
Third baseman Manny Machado continued a remarkable season on Friday night, clubbing two more doubles to give him a major-league-leading 30 in 68 games this year.
According to Elias, since 1900, the earliest any major league under 21 reached 30 doubles was 81 games by Hall of Fame outfielder Ted Williams in 1939. Machado’s 30 doubles in 68 games are the most by any player under age 22 since 1920, topping Williams’ 25 in 1939 and the 24 hit by Yankees Hall of Famer Joe Dimaggio in 1936.
Machado is on pace to hit 71 doubles this year, which would top the major league record of 67 set by Earl Webb for Boston in 1931. The franchise record for doubles is 56, set by Roberts in 2009.
Jacoby Jones and WWE
Ravens wide receiver and “Dancing With the Stars” third-place finisher Jacoby Jones threw out Saturday’s, but WWE chairman Vince McMahon may have been a more appropriate choice based on the atmosphere of the late-afternoon game.
It was the brainchild of center fielder Adam Jones, but the Orioles used professional wrestling theme songs for their walk-up music during Saturday’s game. Jones assigned a song to each player in the lineup as well as starter Freddy Garcia and the relievers in order to have some fun at the ballpark.
Among the themes heard during batting practice on Saturday were The Rock, The Big Show, Chris Jericho, Triple H, and D-Generation X. Jones promised a mix of some old-school themes as well and posed with a replica WWE title for the following photo prior to the game, courtesy of @PTisFLY on Twitter.