Wart removal apparently won't slow Matusz

Duchscherer feeling better after being sidelined with pain in hip

March 05, 2011|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

SARASOTA, Fla. — — A day after making a trip to Philadelphia to have a wart removed from the middle finger on his pitching hand, Brian Matusz felt good enough to throw a bullpen session Saturday and remains on track to start Tuesday.

It was originally believed that Matusz would miss at least one start after having the laser procedure.

"It felt fine," Matusz said. "We weren't sure going into the laser process if it was going to be irritated the next couple days or not. It feels fine. It doesn't feel irritated at all. It feels normal. Like I said before, it never affected me on the mound. It didn't affect any of my pitches. We just wanted to fix it before it became a problem. It felt good. I threw all of my pitches and it was fine. I didn't feel like I had to hold back at all, so I'm on schedule."

The Orioles will wait to see how Matusz feels when he comes in Sunday before deciding whether he'll make Tuesday's start against the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater. However, they said from the very beginning that the procedure was more precautionary than anything as Matusz only felt the wart when he was throwing his curveball.

"Before, it's not that I felt it on the curveball, it's just that I knew that when I gripped the curveball, the wart slightly touched the seam," Matusz said. "Didn't affect it, didn't hurt when I threw it multiple times in the game the other day. Didn't feel it, didn't hurt, didn't affect me at all. It was just there. You want to take the right precaution to make sure it doesn't get bigger in the future."

Good day for Duke, too

If all goes well, Matusz might be followed Tuesday by Justin Duchscherer. The veteran right-hander threw a 25-pitch live batting practice session this morning and the next step appears to be for him to get into a game this week, possibly Tuesday.

"I felt fine out there," Duchscherer said. "I felt fine last time I threw. I actually felt better this time than the last time I threw. I will know more tomorrow, basically I just have to see how it responds.

My command wasn't as good as I would like it to be but physically I felt good and I think that's the only thing we were really concerned about today."

Duchscherer's progress was delayed when he experienced some recurring hip soreness a week ago. He's had three hip surgeries over the past four years.

"I mean, I want to get out there but it's not like I'm going, 'Oh God, oh God'. I'm taking every day day-by-day," he said. "I can't get too far ahead of myself. I've been through this too many times to do that."

Back-up catcher or bust?

Jake Fox has been one of the Orioles best hitters early in spring, hitting his third homer today to tie the game in the ninth inning. However, his chances of making the Opening Day roster may hinge on his defense behind the plate.

While Fox also can play both corner infield spots and some outfield, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said today that "Jake is trying to make this club as a back-up catcher right now."

"I've moved him around just to try to get him some at-bats," he said, "but his primary focus is trying to make this club as a catcher."

That means that Fox is battling Craig Tatum for the job behind starter Matt Wieters. Showalter did say that there is a chance that both Tatum and Fox make the Opening Day roster. However, that would depend on how the rest of the roster is constructed.

Around the horn

Wieters gave the club a little scare today when he was hit by Carl Crawford's backswing in the fifth inning, drawing a visit from Showalter and head athletic trainer Richie Bancells. Wieters, who lost feeling in his right arm, stayed in the game. He was originally supposed to play Sunday, but he has been scratched from the travel roster. He is expected to start Monday. … The Orioles will likely make their first roster cuts after Wednesday's split-squad games … Showalter said that while Derrek Lee (sore right wrist) felt better today, there is still no definitive target for him to start playing in a game. "At the earliest Monday, but it maybe later than that. It's not a big deal for me right now," Showalter said. … Showalter said that starting left fielder Luke Scott will start getting extra work in at first base with bench and infield coach Willie Randolph Sunday. That was the plan all along and it wasn't accelerated by Lee's extended absence, Showalter said … Reliever Michael Gonzalez was clocked as high as 95 miles per hour on the stadium radar gun during his scoreless seventh inning. Gonzalez was throwing in the mid 80's last spring … Jeremy Guthrie, Rick VandenHurk, Wynn Pelzer and Armando Gabino are scheduled to pitch Sunday against the Minnesota Twins in Fort Myers. Brian Duensing will start for the Twins.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jeffzrebiec.sun

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