Up-and-comer Matusz showing O's his stuff

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

March 06, 2009|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -The Orioles are not going to be tempted to accelerate the development of top pitching prospect Brian Matusz, but that isn't going to stop him from showing them what they'll be missing at the major league level this year.

Matusz pitched three scoreless innings of relief in yesterday's 5-2 Grapefruit League victory over the Florida Marlins at Fort Lauderdale Stadium, his third consecutive scoreless outing if you count his appearance against the Italian national team in the Orioles' first game of the spring. And Matusz, 22, is young enough to be visibly excited about his early success.

"It's just a great experience all around to be able to go out there and face big league hitters on a weekly basis," he said. "It's just been a lot of fun. I think it's going to really help me in the development process, just picking up things from the other guys and working on some things. I feel like I'm really developing, and I want to keep my innings going up and up by going two innings the last time and three innings this time. So it's been good, and, hopefully, I'll be ready for the minor leagues."

Perhaps the most interesting thing about yesterday's outing was manager Dave Trembley's ordering Matusz to eliminate his curveball during his final inning and go entirely with his fastball and changeup.

"The third time he went out there, we took his curveball away from him because he's so good with his curveball he's going to fall in love with it," Trembley said. "For his development and ours, it's fastball/changeup, but he's had - obviously - a very nice spring."

Ray sharp again

Trembley said the highlight of the game for him was the scoreless inning thrown by right-hander Chris Ray, who is coming back from Tommy John elbow reconstruction and delivered his third scoreless outing.

"Just watching how the ball was coming out of his hand and the late movement and throwing all his pitches," Trembley said. "We'll probably give him two or three days before he pitches again. We're not going to rush him. He has exceeded what we had expected as far as results are concerned this early in camp."

Guthrie goes for U.S.

Jeremy Guthrie made his first start for Team USA, pitching 2 1/3 innings against the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater and giving up a run on two hits. He also walked a pair of batters before giving way to Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher John Grabow.

"I didn't feel nervous at all," Guthrie said. "But it's good to have that first one out of the way. It almost felt like Opening Day with the circumstances."

Guthrie said his next start for the U.S. team will come Wednesday against an opponent to be determined.

Injury updates

* Right-hander Brad Hennessey, who is trying to shake off early elbow soreness, threw for the second time yesterday and said he will know better today when he'll be ready to resume his audition for one of the open slots in the starting rotation.

"It's coming back slow," he said. "I'm just waiting until [today] to see how it recovers."

* Mark Hendrickson, who was scratched from Wednesday's game against the Dominican national team with a sore back, is scheduled to pitch a simulated game Sunday.

* Right-handed reliever Jim Miller received a cortisone shot to deal with inflammation in his pitching shoulder.

* Rich Hill did not throw yesterday and will not pitch this weekend. He is expected to play catch today and see how his sore elbow feels.

Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

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