Brian Matusz will start in Orioles' bullpen, but he's still an option to start


March 30, 2013|By Eduardo A. Encina and Dan Connolly | The Baltimore Sun

SARASOTA, Fla. — Even though left-hander Brian Matusz will open the season pitching out of the Orioles' bullpen, where he flourished in the final five weeks of the season, manager Buck Showalter said he still sees Matusz as an option to start.

"He's still considered a guy who can do both," Showalter said Saturday. "I still feel like he's got a chance to be a quality starting pitcher for us. This is right move right now for this club. Obviously if we get a long way away from where he is innings-wise, then he'd probably need to make a start or two [at Triple-A Norfolk] get back to that unless we just happen to fall on the day we need a starter when we have a full bullpen.

"But we'd probably have [until the end] of April before we had to do that. But we like options in Norfolk too, but we look at Brian as one of those options too."

Matusz pitched to 1.35 ERA in 18 relief outings last season and stranded all 14 inherited runners. He was 5-10 with a 5.42 ERA in 16 starts last year. This spring, Matusz was 1-1 with a 4.05 ERA in 20 innings pitched.

Gonzalez sharp in final tuneup

Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez helped end the Orioles' spring training camp on a positive note. He threw five innings in Sunday's Grapefruit League finale against the New York Mets on Sunday, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out four batters in five innings. He threw 71 pitches, 47 for strikes.

Gonzalez retired the first eight batters he faced and didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning, when Marlon Byrd led off the frame with a single. The Orioles won the game, 7-1, to finish 19-9-4 in the Grapefruit League.

"The fact that we ended this way gets me pumped up a little bit more, and I'm looking forward to the season," Gonzalez said. "It's been a long spring training for us, but we are happy we are ready to go."

Gonzalez will pitch the third game of the season Thursday against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

Showalter on Freddy Garcia

The Orioles signed right-hander Freddy Garcia to a minor league deal Friday, less than a week after he was released by the San Diego Padres. Showalter said Garcia is another versatile pitcher who could see big league time at some point in 2013.

"He is inventory He can help us if we have a need," Showalter said. "He can pitch as a starter and out of the bullpen. I like it."

Garcia, 36, is expected to throw Sunday morning at the team's minor league complex at Twin Lakes Park. He was 7-6 with a 5.20 ERA for the New York Yankees last year. He'll likely get five to six starts at Triple-A Norfolk before the club re-evaluates whether he'll get a big league chance. Garcia had a 8.71 ERA in six spring games for the Padres.

O's hit four homers in win

The Orioles hit four homers in Saturday's game — including three that caught in the wind blowing out in left field, which has been a constant at Ed Smith Stadium this spring.

Nate McLouth hit two solo homers, including one off the batter's eye in center field to lead off the second inning off Mets starter Dillon Gee. McLouth also hit an opposite-field homer to left in the fifth off Jeremy Hefner, one of three homers the reliever allowed.

Chris Davis hit a two-run shot off Hefner in the fifth, and Steve Pearce hit his seventh homer of the spring, tying the Grapefruit League lead.

The Orioles' announced sellout crowd of 7,642 rose their home attendance for the spring to 120,455 a new franchise record. That total is also a spring training season attendance record for Sarasota, a community that has held spring training since 1924.

The previous record for both the Orioles and Sarasota was 115,506, set in 16 home dates in 2011. The Orioles had 17 home games this spring.

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