Short wait for Chen to begin Marlins career

Free-agent lefty tabbed for Opening Day start with new club

Short wait for Chen to begin Marlins career

MIAMI -- The way Wei-Yin Chen handled the news he would be the Marlins' Opening Day starter pretty much mirrors how he goes about his business. The 30-year-old left-hander took it in stride.

Staying steady no matter the occasion is a major reason Chen was Miami's prime free-agent target. The club was seeking a stabilizing presence at the top of its rotation, and Chen fit the bill. Now he will take the ball on Opening Day on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. ET against the Tigers at Marlins Park.

"It's hard to get a reaction out of Wei-Yin," manager Don Mattingly said. "He's pretty much flat line all the time, pretty steady."

His typically laid-back self is how Chen was when Mattingly made him the surprise choice to start the opener instead of Jose Fernandez, the hard-throwing right-hander recognized as the ace of the staff.

Fernandez, who will be working within an innings range of 180-200 this year, will start Game 2 on Wednesday.

"We just think it sets us up best moving forward in the season," Mattingly said.

Chen may not have appeared outwardly overjoyed when informed he would be taking the ball in Game 1, but he clearly treats the opportunity as an honor.

"I never expected it," Chen said. "We have a lot of great pitchers on this team, and Jose is such a great pitcher. When I was told, I was surprised. I'm grateful they have faith in me."

Chen named Opening Day starter

When Chen throws his first pitch on Tuesday night, he will become just the second Taiwan-born Opening Day starter in MLB history. The first was Chien-Ming Wang in 2008 with the Yankees.

"I am very happy and it's a huge honor," Chen said. "We had Chien-Ming Wang, a great pitcher who came before me. So it's an honor to follow his lead."

In free agency, the Marlins targeted Chen as a left-handed option to start at the top of the rotation with Fernandez.

After four years as a staple in the Orioles' rotation, Chen signed with the Marlins in January for five years and $80 million, which is the richest contract the franchise has ever awarded to a pitcher.

Chen is an established workhorse, making more than 30 starts in three of his four seasons. The lefty is coming off an 11-8 campaign with a 3.34 ERA in 191 1/3 innings.

"When Don Mattingly told me, I was kind of surprised," Chen said. "But as a starting pitcher, it's definitely a chance you want to have."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.