Chen cautiously optimistic after playing catch

Chen cautiously optimistic after playing catch

MIAMI -- Wei-Yin Chen had reason to smile on Wednesday morning, because for the first time since going on the disabled list on July 25 with a left elbow sprain, the 31-year-old played catch.

Chen made 25 tosses from 60 feet, and afterwards he expressed that he's hopeful to pitch again this season, most likely at some point in September.

"I definitely hope I can pitch this year, but we're going to go through every step carefully," Chen said through his interpreter. "I don't have a specific timetable. But definitely, I hope I can pitch this year."

Chen last started on July 20 at Philadelphia, and his DL stint is retroactive to July 21. Recently, he had been strengthening with a weighted plyometrics ball. On Wednesday, he threw a baseball for the first time since his start at Philadelphia.

In need of starting-pitching depth, the Marlins are hopeful Chen can return at some point in the final weeks of the season.

In his first season with the Marlins, Chen has made 19 starts and is 5-4 with a 4.99 ERA. As he begins the process of building back up, Chen is starting off by throwing every other day. So he will be off on Thursday and throw again on Friday, barring any setbacks.

"Today is the first time I picked up a baseball and played catch," the native of Taiwan said. "I feel pretty good, and my elbow feels strong. I didn't feel any problem."

Chen's injury is one reason the Marlins traded for Andrew Cashner, and the club also has tinkered with its rotation, moving David Phelps from the bullpen to the rotation.

The fact that Chen had Tommy John surgery on the same elbow 10 years ago is another reason his recovery isn't being rushed.

"Because it's my elbow, we want to be careful with that," Chen said. "So we want to do everything step by step and be totally pain free. We don't want to rush it and irritate it again.

"If everything goes on schedule, then definitely I will be able to pitch again this year. But you have to be careful with the elbow, so we're going to go carefully. I can only say it's a hope."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. 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.