For the second year in a row, Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen is getting a short trip to the minor leagues. It has nothing to do with how he's performed, but rather that the Orioles can option him and call him back up at this time without him ever missing a start. That's just what they did on Wednesday afternoon, sending Chen to the Gulf Coast League Orioles in order to call up catcher Steve Clevenger a few days early.
You have to wonder whether Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette has a problem. It's like he can't stop himself. He sees some marginal move he can make and so he does. Are the chances high that any of the next four games will hinge on the presence of Clevenger? No, probably not. But they might, and the Orioles can get away with it, so why not?
Clevenger has played 64 games for the Triple-A Norfolk Tides this season, batting .305/.366/.389. In the 26 games he played with the Orioles before being sent to the minors, he batted .240/.296/.373.
In all likelihood, this is a paper transaction. Chen's probably not getting on a plane to head to Sarasota and he certainly won't be pitching there. The reason to send him to the Gulf Coast League is that their season ends the soonest. Ordinarily, a player who gets optioned must be down in the minors for 10 days unless he's replacing an injured player. However, when the minor league affiliate's season is over, a player can also be called up without waiting the ten days.
The Gulf Coast League regular season winds to a close on Thursday. Chen can return as soon as they want him to, probably in time for his next start on Sunday. That's August 31, still before rosters expand on September 1, so at that time another player will have to be temporarily banished to make room for Chen. Duquette is already rubbing together his hands with glee.