Welcome Matt

I caught up to pitcher Matt Albers yesterday as he was heading to the Texans-Titans game (I didn't have the heart to tell him that I took Tennessee +4 ½).

For the past two weeks, Albers and Triple-A Norfolk left-hander Troy Patton have been working out at a facility about 20 minutes north of Houston.

"There are about 20 to 25 guys who either play pro ball or just finished," Albers said.

Albers won't start throwing until mid-December, but it's more important for him to focus on his conditioning. Manager Dave Trembley drove home that point late in the season, challenging Albers to get in better shape.

Matt Albers

"I'm trying to work out really hard and eat good food," Albers said. "I'm trying to stay away from the Mexican down here. It's good, but it's really bad for you.

"I'm working out and watching what I eat. I'm trying to come into spring training in the best shape I can."

Albers said he hasn't set a specific weight as a goal, "but losing 10 pounds would probably be good."

He was listed at 205 to begin the season, but he didn't finish there. That much was apparent.

"As long as I work out, I'm not really fixated on the weight," he said. "As long as I keep working out and getting ready for the season, I know that I'll be fine. I don't have a set weight in mind, but obviously I want to lose some."

Albers has a lot to lose if he doesn't. He posted a 5.51 ERA in 67 innings last season that covered four stints with the Orioles. He gave up 80 hits, walked 36 and struck out 49. He was 1-3 with a 3.58 ERA in the first half, and 2-3 with a 7.98 ERA in the second.

In other words, he's not a lock to make the Opening Day roster.

Albers held right-handers to a .273 average, but lefties hit .342 against him. He didn't allow an earned run in his three victories, but posted a 23.14 ERA in his six losses.

Albers had a 1.42 ERA in five games against the Yankees, and a 5.56 ERA against the rest of the AL East.

He was lights-out in interleague play, posting a 0.84 ERA in 10 2/3 innings.

Albers is 10-22 with a 5.29 ERA in 119 major league games. He needs to step up next year. And the Orioles want him to be lighter on his feet while he does it.

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