OK, let’s get the important stuff out of the way.
Brian Matusz confirmed that he’ll wear No. 17 next season if the Orioles follow through on his request.
“I asked for Aubrey Huff’s number last year when he got traded,” Matusz told me last night after we decided to stop playing phone tag. “I said, ‘Would you mind if I took over 17?’ And he said, ‘No, I’m done.’ I asked when I knew he was leaving.
“I know I’m still a rookie next year and shouldn’t be asking for my own number, but I asked (clubhouse manager) Jimmy Tyler and he said, ‘You got it, No. 17. I’ll make a mental note of it.’ I don’t know if it’s set in stone, and I still feel like I shouldn’t be asking for numbers.”
I reminded Matusz that if the Orioles bring in an accomplished veteran with an attachment to 17, he stands to make a nice profit off it.
“I’m always willing to negotiate,” he said, playing along. “That’s for sure.”
While scanning photos from last week’s Orioles Christmas party at ESPNZone, Matusz noticed that pitcher Brandon Erbe was wearing a No. 52 jersey with his own name on the back.
“I figured I’m not 52 anymore,” he said.
So keep this in mind if you’re planning on giving Orioles jerseys as holiday gifts.
Matusz just returned from a Hawaiian vacation and has resumed working out at Athletes’ Performance Institute in Arizona. Single-A Frederick catcher Caleb Joseph joins him each day.
“He’s staying at my house for a month so we can both work out,” Matusz said. “We both get after it in the weight room and then play some golf.”
Other players at API include Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, Pat Burrell, Evan Longoria, Jacoby Ellsbury, Bill Hall, Dontrelle Willis and Dice-K.
“It’s a good group of guys,” Matusz said.
Now for Matusz’s reaction to the Kevin Millwood trade, which was the original purpose of my call.
“I was excited right away when I heard about it,” he said. “He’s a piece of the puzzle we needed. We needed a veteran pitcher in the rotation, obviously, with all the young guys who came up last year. And when you think of all the stuff we took from (Jeremy) Guthrie, who’s only been up for three years, imagine what we can learn from Millwood, who’s been in the playoffs and had so many successful seasons and is coming off another good year.
“It seems like he’s a good fit for us and can anchor our pitching staff, and we can all take a lot from him. We’re all real young and he’s just what we needed in our rotation. Everything I’ve heard about Kevin has been positive. I talked to Guthrie - I know he played with him in Cleveland - and he says nothing but good things about him. I’m really happy with the move.
“Obviously, losing Chris Ray is a bummer. We all know the potential he has. We saw it a couple years ago when he was the closer with the Orioles. But you’ve got to look at the positive side. We brought in a huge piece of the puzzle.”