7/5/2013 7:58 P.M. ET
Showalter interested to see who gets All-Star nods
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter found himself courting some interesting achievements on the eve of the All-Star announcements. Showalter was asked Friday about his team, which could have four elected All-Star starters for the first time in franchise history.
First baseman Chris Davis and shortstop J.J. Hardy had big edges on the competition at their respective positions in the last balloting update, and center fielder Adam Jones also appeared to have a spot locked down. Right fielder Nick Markakis landed fourth among outfielders in the last update, and Showalter said Friday that the Orioles are hoping he somehow gains momentum.
"I think everybody's pulling for him," Showalter said. "Nickie is never the type of guy that would say it would mean something to him. He'll say, 'Well, I get to spend time with my two boys and my wife, who's due shortly.' He'd be fine with that. Nickie's not into that self-satisfaction. He sincerely cares about us doing well. He'd never say it publicly, but I think it would mean as much to us as it does to him."
The All-Star teams will be announced Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET on FOX, and the Orioles could also have additional candidates in closer Jim Johnson and third baseman Manny Machado. Johnson leads the Majors in saves (29), and Machado went into Friday's game batting .319.
Even catcher Matt Wieters -- who homered in Friday's game -- could make an All-Star case for himself. Showalter refused to speculate on what it would mean to Baltimore to have four All-Star starters, and he said that the process usually allows the best available players to make the team.
"I'll tell you, the fans have done a pretty good job," said Showalter of the annual fan balloting for the All-Star Game. "It's hard to argue with a lot of their picks. I'm sure somebody could and will, and that's part of it, too. I did my ballot -- and over, and over. There's something about being able to vote. Of course, there's some political elections that probably work that way too around the world."
Showalter lauded Davis, who leads the AL with 32 home runs, for working hard and taking advantage of the opportunities he's been given. Showalter also saved special praise for Machado, the 20-year-old prodigy who currently leads the league in doubles (39) and is on a record-setting pace.
"I just want to think that he's going to be as good as he's capable of being," Showalter said, "and I feel comfortable with that. Whatever he ends up being, I won't be around to see it. I'm hoping at some point I'm watching games through some real thick glasses and saying, 'I used to manage that guy.' The ones that keep me up at night, I don't know if they'll ever reach their potential."
Chen could return to rotation next week
NEW YORK -- The Orioles are a few days away from holding an intact rotation.
Wei-Yin Chen, sidelined for six weeks by a strained right oblique muscle, joined the Orioles at Yankee Stadium on Friday. Baltimore wants the southpaw to test himself one more time with a bullpen session, and if everything's OK, he should be back on the mound next week.
"He'll take his work-day tomorrow or the next day," said manager Buck Showalter. "We'll see how he feels and then we'll make a decision. If he's physically ready, we'll activate him on the fifth or sixth day. We've got some different options that present themselves now. We'll take it day to day."
Chen will likely slot back into the rotation on Wednesday or Thursday against Texas, but Showalter has a few other options. Zach Britton has stepped up and worked to a 2.74 ERA in his last four outings, and the Orioles acquired veteran Scott Feldman from the Cubs in a trade last week.
Showalter said the Orioles could go to a six-man rotation for a brief period before the All-Star break, and he also said that one of the team's starters could wind up in the bullpen to make room for Chen. The bottom line, said Showalter, is that the team is better off for having choices.
"I don't think it's complicated, because we're dealing with some good people," he said. "What's complicated is when you don't have a good option. We'll see how things work in our bullpen the next couple days. We don't have to do anything for a while, especially as well as Zach has pitched."
Chen, who went 12-11 with a 4.02 ERA last season, said Friday that he feels healthy and is looking forward to getting back on a Major League mound. The left-hander has made two rehab starts, and he said he attacked both sides of the plate in Thursday's outing for Double-A Bowie.
"I'm definitely ready to pitch for my next start. Same approach to every game," he said via interpreter Tim Lin. "Like [my] last outing, I'm ready to pitch, but if they want to be safe, to pitch one more rehab game, [I'll] just do down there and get the job done. Right now, I'm coming back ready to [do] the job again."
Chen, who will turn 28 later this month, made 32 starts for the Orioles last season, and he said Friday that it was frustrating to be sidelined while his teammates are fighting to stay afloat.
"It's definitely part of baseball," said Chen of the disabled list, "but I definitely miss playing with my teammates and playing for the Orioles. I'm ready to come back and help the team to win."
• Former Orioles reliever Brian Bass announced his retirement on Thursday. Bass, 31, last pitched in the Independent League and retires with a 9-7 record and a 5.16 big league ERA.
• Veteran outfielder Lew Ford, recovering from a sports hernia surgery, has resumed baseball activities. There is still no timetable on Ford's return to active duty at this point.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.