Top draft pick Matusz welcomed to Baltimore

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Notebook

August 23, 2008|By Dan Connolly | Dan Connolly,Sun reporter

Brian Matusz put on his new Orioles cap, and it slid down around his ears.

"I just got a haircut," joked Matusz, the Orioles' top pick in the 2008 draft who was introduced to the media at a news conference yesterday.

The Orioles have some time to get his next Orioles hat custom-fitted, but they're hoping that when he returns, the left-hander from the University of San Diego is a mainstay in the club's rotation.

"I never really set goals of where I want to be," said Matusz, 21, who agreed to a four-year major league contract that included a $3.2 million signing bonus. "It's more setting goals to work hard and put myself in a situation where I can be in the big leagues in a few years."

Orioles scouting director Joe Jordan said Matusz reminds him of the Philadelphia Phillies' Cole Hamels, one of baseball's top young pitchers.

"I've been compared to him a lot the last few years [because of] the way Hamels works off of his changeup and his great breaking ball. He works in the low 90s, and he's able to spot up all three of those pitches," said Matusz, who toured Camden Yards and met Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer and Orioles manager Dave Trembley, among others.

Matusz leaves today for Single-A Aberdeen, where he'll work out with coaches but not play. He is expected to begin his professional career this year in either the Arizona Fall League or the Hawaii Winter League.

"I'm happy to be part of the ballclub now and to make it out here to Camden Yards, which is just a great stadium," he said. "I love everything about it so far. It's been a lot of fun up to this point."

Jones takes swings

Center fielder Adam Jones, on the disabled list since breaking a bone in his left foot Aug. 2, was expected to take batting practice on the field yesterday but instead remained in the indoor cage on orders from the club's medical staff.

He's expected to hit outside today, another small step toward recovery.

"He's not going to be - in the next three or four or five days - activated. No, no, no," Trembley said. "He is going to be a guy that's going to tell you he's ready, but we are going to take the other, conservative route on him."

Jones likely will participate in a simulated game sometime this week but won't go on a minor league rehabilitation assignment because the affiliates' seasons are ending.

Ray to be at stadium

Injured closer Chris Ray should be back in the clubhouse today, after pitching one scoreless inning last night at Single-A Aberdeen. He gave up two hits and struck out two.

But he'll be at Camden Yards only to run and throw on the side and meet with pitching coach Rick Kranitz. Trembley said the club hasn't decided whether Ray, who had ligament-replacement surgery on his right elbow last August, will pitch for the Orioles next month.

Ray's previous outing before last night was Wednesday at Single-A Frederick, in which he allowed three hits, including a homer, and two runs in one inning.

Trembley said a healthy Ray would give the Orioles some interesting choices next spring. Ray, 26, has saved 49 games for the Orioles since 2006. Current closer George Sherrill, 31, had 31 saves this year before being placed on the disabled list Tuesday with shoulder inflammation. And his setup man, Jim Johnson, 25, will be used in the closer's role while Sherrill is injured.

Starting assignments

The Orioles won't name their starter for Monday's suspended game against the Chicago White Sox until that day. Trembley said a reliever will take over to start the 12th inning, when the April 28 game was suspended. Rookie Chris Waters will start the regularly scheduled game Monday night, and Radhames Liz will pitch Wednesday. The Tuesday starter has not been announced, but it is expected to be left-hander Brian Burres, who is currently at Triple-A Norfolk.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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