5/20/2013 7:45 P.M. ET
Hunter always monitoring his important changeup
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
BALTIMORE -- Orioles right-hander Tommy Hunter isn't shy about admitting he checks the stadium's radar gun while on the mound. But it's not exactly the way you would imagine.
"You will see my neck breaking trying to find out how hard I was throwing the changeup," said Hunter, whose fastball has been clocked in the triple digits. "That's kind of weird, awkward. But it's pretty much what sets up the rest of my [arsenal]. If I can keep my changeup 85, 86 [mph], I'm going to be pretty good that day."
The changeup has been working as of late, with Hunter entering Monday's game 3-0 with a 0.46 ERA over his last 12 games, allowing one earned run over 19 2/3 innings pitches. The 26-year-old Hunter, who made 20 starts for the Orioles last year, made this year's team as part of the Opening Day bullpen, and he attributes his recent success to having a better game plan.
Before every game, Hunter will sit down with bullpen coach Billy Castro and go over what his approach should be in certain situations and against certain hitters. It's not a new concept, but Hunter said the difference is implementing it on the mound.
"It's more just sticking with it," he said. "It's not getting away from what you do. Sometimes hitters can take you away from your plan, your mentality. And I really, to be honest, I have stuck with what I've been doing, and it's been working."
Hunter has been able to go multiple innings for the Orioles and bridge the gap from the all-too-common short starts to the end of the bullpen. But that doesn't mean that the right-hander couldn't slot in as a setup man or be called on to get a big strikeout if necessary.
"On a given day when someone is needed there and someone is not available in my mind to pitch, we would feel comfortable pushing him back there," manager Buck Showalter said. "There's not many guys here that have a better track record of winning then as Tommy as far as W's and L's."
Chen set to begin rehab from oblique injury in Florida
BALTIMORE -- Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen (oblique strain) will head to Sarasota, Fla., on Tuesday to get an early start on his rehab, although he isn't expected to pick up the ball for at least another week.
"I want to come back as soon as possible, but this injury I cannot push too hard," Chen said through interpreter Tim Lin. "I have to heal completely, so I don't want to rush."
Oblique injuries are tricky and Chen will start on the stationary bike with hopes of progressing to running next week. Asked if he felt Chen could pick up a baseball and start a throwing program after another week, manager Buck Showalter said the club would be "fortunate" if that happened.
"I hope that's the case," Showalter said. "You guys know the history with these things and one of those histories is if you go to quick, it's a Grade 2. There's a grade that's worse than that one and you don't want to be headed toward that one."
Chen was the Orioles' most consistent starter before hitting the disabled list, and the 27-year-old was officially placed on the DL on May 14 (retroactive to May 13) after an MRI confirmed the injury. He said Monday he is taking "baby steps" toward a return by getting treatment and allowing the area to calm down while he rests.
"He's still sore," Showalter said. "But he's doing some things as far as sleeping through the night and rolling over where it's not bothering him like it did the first couple days. I don't think there's some definitive date where we think [he will be back] ... there's just unknown on it."
• Shortstop J.J. Hardy hit third on Monday, which Showalter said was more of a product of trying to provide the toughest lineup possible against Yankees lefty CC Sabathia than Hardy's recent surge. Hardy had a three-game hitting streak snapped on Sunday.
• The Orioles have signed catcher Ronnie Paulino, released by the Mariners on March 30, according to Baseball America. He broke camp last spring as the O's backup catcher
• There are no plans right now for Jake Arrieta to get a start, although that could change depending on team need.
• Miguel Gonzalez will be activated from the disabled list prior to Tuesday's start.
• Monday's game was broadcast on ESPN.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.