FORT MYERS, Fla. - It wasn’t until left-hander Brian Matusz returned to the bullpen to continue throwing that he salvaged part of his night.
Matusz recorded only four outs and allowed four runs and four hits, with three walks and no strikeouts. He threw 56 pitches, but the most important ones came afterward.
That’s when Matusz says he found the rhythm that abandoned him while the Twins were teeing off and home plate kept moving on him.
“From the get-go, warming up, I couldn’t find my rhythm tonight,” he said. “Warming up in the bullpen, I was a little bit inconsistent, but I was kind of getting myself together to go out there for the game. But during the game, I wasn’t in my rhythm at all. I’ve been working on some things with my mechanics, just trying to get in a good rhythm and a good flow. But from the get-go, I didn’t get to where I wanted to be. I wasn’t in that rhythm like I was five days ago.
“When you’re out there on the mound, it’s tough to work on stuff. You’ve got to be able to just focus and make outs and face your hitters. I was thinking about it too much today. I was too tense, I was thinking about it, trying to just get out of the innings so I can take a break and kind of get in my flow, and I never did. I just didn’t have it today.
“You’re never happy with an early exit like that. I’m not happy and a little frustrated. I’m upset at myself, but at the same time, it’s nice to get this out at spring training. Every pitcher is going to go through times where they just don’t have their stuff that day. It’s all a matter of being able to find it throughout the course of the game. Today, I just didn’t do it. I didn’t do it and Buck (Showalter) and Goose (Mark Connor) picked up on it right away and took me out of there. I went over to the bullpen and after that inning I threw on that mound to get some pitches in and see if I can figure it out, and right away, boom, boom, boom, right where I wanted it. I finally got that angle back and I was doing what I needed to do. I was just too tense and amped up. I couldn’t find that flow. It’s going to happen.”
Connor left the dugout and watched Matusz throw while the game continued.
“Mark came back there, and almost before I even said anything, I just got in a good flow. He let me know what I was doing wrong afterward and it made sense. I’ll put this one behind me and learn from it, learn a great deal from it and move on,” Matusz said.
“I was out there doing too much. A little too tense instead of being easy and fluid and letting it go. I’ve been working a lot trying to get myself in better mechanics. I feel comfortable where I’m at. I definitely feel good. I’m happy with the progress I’ve had. This outing is a little bit of a step back, but it’s also a learning process for me. You can learn so much just from outings like that, being able to pick yourself back up and get back on a good roll. And I feel like I did, starting with the bullpen, being able to get the kinks out today. I did right away. I felt good. I worked with Goose. He told me I didn’t have that rhythm in the game.
“It’s frustrating, it’s really frustrating, but I feel good now. I always talk about it’s a process. Well, failure’s part of the process, too.”
Matusz said he isn’t concerned that he hasn’t completed five innings this spring with one start remaining before the opening series at Tropicana Field.
“I wanted to get six ups today. That was my goal, to get six innings, so yeah, that’s not a positive at all, but I was able to get some extra work in on the side there,” he said. “It’s just motivation for me to work hard and get myself back together. I don’t see it as too much of a negative thing to get ready for the season. I still know what I need to do to get ready. I learned so much from this and I’ll just move forward and stay positive, learn as much as I can from this and get better this week.”
Asked how he’ll transfer what he learned in the bullpen to his next start, Matusz replied, “It’s going to be four hard days of work and then be ready to go on the fifth day. It was just one of those days where I didn’t have it, I didn’t get in my rhythm, I didn’t do it. Now I know what went wrong and I know what to fix and I’ll take it from there.”
Vladimir Guerrero hit his fourth home run in the fifth inning, increasing his RBI total to 13, but the Twins scored a run off left-hander Clay Rapada in the bottom half. Rapada has allowed runs in three straight outings to increase his ERA to 5.87.
NOTE: The Orioles will send a representative to Arizona to watch left-hander Doug Davis throw tomorrow, but it’s more about taking a look than having serious interest. It’s not expected to amount to anything.
NOTE II: Manny Machado, the third overall pick in last year’s draft, is playing shortstop in the bottom of the eighth inning. Cesar Izturis moved to third base.