Port Charlotte, Fla. — - It's not often you get a classic at-bat in the second game of the exhibition season, but Brian Matusz and Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria put on quite a show in the first inning Thursday at Charlotte Sports Park.
Two of baseball's brightest young players dueled for 13 pitches and Matusz came out the clear winner, striking out Longoria after forcing him to go back to the dugout twice to get a new bat.
Matusz would go on to strike out four of the six batters he faced and throw 36 pitches in his 2010 exhibition debut - 28 of them for strikes. The only blemish on his performance was a windblown home run by Sean Rodriguez in the second inning, but Matusz was still thrilled with his performance.
"It was great," Matusz said. "I came out of the gates. My game plan today was ... I was excited, I really wanted to pound the zone and throw strikes. I was able to do that today. I came out and threw a lot of fastballs. I didn't go off my game plan at all, even with that at-bat with Longoria, where it was long. He kept fouling pitches off. I still continued to go in hard with fastballs and did what I wanted to do."
Pie pulls up Felix Pie
was halfway to the cycle with a home run and a triple when he was removed from the game for a pinch runner in the third inning. He said he "stretched" his left quadriceps a little bit, which could be an aggravation of the injury from late last season, but he said he would have stayed in the game if it had been the regular season.
"I just stretched it a little bit," he said. "It's not hurt or nothing. I could have stayed in."
Manager Dave Trembley said afterward that he isn't concerned about Pie's quadriceps issue. He said Pie would have been off today anyway and will start against the Tigers in Lakeland on Saturday.
"He told me he could have kept playing," Trembley said. "I told him, you've already got a home run and a triple. That's enough for today."
Uehara's quick turn Koji Uehara
threw just eight pitches and retired all three batters he faced in his first competitive appearance since June 23, when he suffered a partial tear of the flexor tendon in his right elbow. He also had hamstring problems throughout spring training and during the early part of the season, but the Orioles hope he'll be able to stay healthier in the bullpen this year.
"Obviously the role is different," he said, "but I have done this before. No challenges. I'm not worried about it."
Trembley on Roberts
Trembley also continues to insist that he is not concerned about the back injury that has limited the activities of Brian Roberts
"No, I'm not concerned," he said. "Today is March 4. If it's April 4, I'll be concerned."
Since there is no firm target date for Roberts' exhibition debut, somebody asked Trembley what he thinks is the minimum number of at-bats that a player needs to get in spring training to get ready for the season. He said 30.
The regular drill for starting pitchers the first time through the rotation is two innings or 35 pitches, but Kevin Millwood
could be the exception.
"He's a veteran guy," Trembley said. "He likes to throw more pitches. He needs to throw more pitches. He'll go two or three" innings.
Around the horn
The Japanese media contingent for Uehara's exhibition debut this spring is smaller than last year. There were seven Japanese media members in Port Charlotte. Last year, there were at least 20 in attendance for his first start ... Trembley said that Nolan Reimold
and Michael Aubrey
likely will make their first appearances Saturday.