"That's part of the design," manager Buck Showalter said of having Chen pitch fifth and get acclimated to a Major League environment before making his debut. "So we're trying to, not delay it, but make sure he gets as many things under his belt [as possible], so he knows what he's going into and has a feel for it.
"Does it mean that he will be more successful his first time out? I can't say for sure. But I know that if he just flew in here the night before and started the next day, that would be a little bit of a challenge, I would think."
Signed to a three-year deal out of Japan this past offseason, Chen adjusted well in Grapefruit League play, going 2-2 with a 3.60 ERA in five games, and he's had no trouble meshing with his new teammates. Asked his opinion of the atmosphere in Baltimore for opening weekend, Chen said through his interpreter that it's "definitely different" than the vibe at spring camp in Florida.
"In Spring Training, everyone is doing their job and making adjustments a little bit," Chen said. "Here, everyone wants to win. Tomorrow, I want to win, too."
Chen is familiar with several of the Yankees by name, including Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, citing fans' knowledge of the veteran superstars, although the lefty hasn't faced any of New York's hitters. Chen admitted he is a little nervous for Tuesday's game, which can be expected of anyone before a Major League debut.
"Looking at some of the tape on him, this guy has pitched in big venues, big crowds, meaningful games," Showalter said of Chen. "We think our games are more meaningful, but pitching in the Asian games and the Olympics, pitching in Japan, the playoffs -- there's a lot of relevancy to it. But this is still a little different stage for them, especially when you consider the environment and the soil that they are pitching on."
"I wouldn't think that's a stretch," Chen said, when asked if there would be any extra pressure for his 7:05 ET debut, which will also be broadcast internationally, as well as on MLB.TV. "But all I can do is prepare now and focus on every pitch [Tuesday] and do my job."