For most of spring training, Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli kept a close watch on Luis Matos, making sure the center fielder wasn't favoring the right leg that required surgery in August. Much to his relief, he never detected a limp.
Matos got around the bases yesterday without any difficulties, his return to good health evident in the two-run homer he hit off Oakland's Barry Zito in the Orioles' 4-0 victory at Camden Yards.
Zito got ahead of Matos 1-2, but he hung a curveball that wound up traveling an estimated 390 feet to left-center field.
"With this lineup, we're going to have a different guy every day," said Matos, who was 1-for-4.
Matos batted .373 with two homers and 11 RBIs this spring, easing most of the concerns within the organization about his health, and whether center field was in good hands.
"I went to spring training needing to win a job," he said, "and that's what I did."
Mazzilli had a little chat with Matos before the team broke camp, offering praise for how hard he worked this winter to make a full recovery.
"I told him how proud I was of him," Mazzilli said.
The Athletics kept Matos busy in center. He recorded the first two outs of the game and made three straight catches in the later innings, running down a long drive by Scott Hatteberg to begin the eighth.
As Mazzilli could attest, there still was no sign of a limp.
J. Lopez's back acts up
Catcher Javy Lopez left the game in the seventh inning with stiffness in his lower back, but he expects to play tomorrow.
Lopez had a similar problem early in spring training. The back flared up again yesterday, but he tried to ignore the pain until Mazzilli made the switch and inserted backup Geronimo Gil.
"I got out of the game so I could get treatment and be ready for Wednesday," said Lopez, who will benefit from today's open date in the schedule. "It's nothing serious."
Said Mazzilli: "He'll play Wednesday."
DuBose passes through
Eric DuBose did some throwing in the Orioles' bullpen during batting practice - the place he wanted to be on Opening Day, but not while passing through town.
DuBose was optioned to Triple-A Ottawa on Saturday as part of the final roster cuts. It was the last blow in a spring that included a 9.00 ERA in 14 innings and his arrest in Sarasota, Fla., on a charge of driving under the influence.
As if returning from last year's elbow surgery weren't enough of a challenge.
"There are always things I need to work on," he said. "I did some good things in spring training, but I also have to get my arm strength back and put my work in so I can get back up here."
DuBose, who was 9-5 with a 3.39 ERA with the Lynx in 2003, doesn't anticipate having any trouble obtaining a work visa to enter Ottawa following his arrest.
"We haven't heard of anything yet," he said.
New TV logo debuts
During yesterday's telecast of the opener, the Orioles debuted their newly formed television entity, MidAtlantic Sports Network, with a "MASN" logo on the screen.
MASN is the regional sports network majority owned by the Orioles and partly owned by the Washington Nationals - an arrangement agreed to in the deal between the Orioles and Major League Baseball to compensate the Orioles for having to share the region with the Nationals.
The actual network hasn't launched yet, but the MASN logo will appear on Orioles and Nationals over-the-air broadcasts.
Around the horn
The crowd of 48,271 was the largest on Opening Day in the 14-year history of Camden Yards, breaking the record of 48,058 in 2002. ... Oakland shortstop Bobby Crosby left the game in the fourth inning with upper-back pain. ... The Orioles are waiting to hear whether Jay Witasick and infielder Enrique Wilson accepted their assignments to Ottawa. ... Before the game, there was a moment of silence in remembrance of Pope John Paul II, longtime Orioles announcer Chuck Thompson and former manager Johnny Oates. ... Orioles owner Peter Angelos was in the dugout before the game. ... The first 15,000 adults ages 18 and older attending tomorrow's game will receive a Sammy Sosa T-shirt.