Matusz: "Big step forward today" (updated)

The news keeps getting better regarding Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz.

As I wrote in my last entry, Matusz threw a 35-pitch bullpen session this afternoon and said the pain and irritation are gone. He threw fastballs, he spun the ball, and he walked away feeling like it won't be much longer before he's ready to start for the Orioles.

"It went really well," he said. "I threw two-seam, four-seam fastballs, working in and out, and threw a few changeups and a couple curveballs. Got a good feel. It was good. I worked from the windup, stretch. Felt really good. No pain at all. Felt like I got stronger as I kept going.

"Once the bullpen was done, I was kind of like, 'I feel loose now. I'm ready to do more,' which is a good sign. There was no irritation, no pain. Big step forward today. I was able to get on the mound and let it go a little bit, and we'll take it from there.

"I believe Goose (Mark Connor) and Buck (Showalter) and Andy MacPhail, and I'm assuming the trainers, will all sit down today and kind of discuss my program for the next couple weeks and see where we're at."

Matusz is expected to throw in an extended spring training game and go on an injury rehab assignment before being activated in the middle of May. The initial plan called for Matusz to make at least three starts in the minors, but the Orioles could take a less cautious approach if the left-hander remains pain-free and is commanding his pitches.

"Goose and Buck, they've been around a while. They've been through a lot of injuries, had guys come back from a lot of different things. I gave them my input. I told them how I felt phenomenal, 100 percent," Matusz said.

"I wish I could have gone more today, one of those things, but I think they know where I'm at. They'll sit down and kind of discuss it and come up with the best plan that will be beneficial to me coming back healthy and being back here with the team as soon as possible."

Matusz was supposed to start the second game of the season at Tropicana Field before straining his left intercostal muscle and going on the disabled list.

"It's been tough this whole time," he said. "This whole process hasn't been easy, watching these guys play every day and having to sit there and kind of wait until I'm healthy. It's frustrating. It's not a lot of fun. Right now, I'm working on my patience, making sure I'm in good shape and doing everything I can so when my day does come, I'm 100 percent and I'm ready to go and there's no excuses and I've built myself up and I'm ready to let it fly.

"I wish I could be out there today or tomorrow, but that's not the case. I've got to be able to build my way back up and not take any steps back. That's the biggest thing. I don't want to take any steps back. I want to be able to continuously throw every day and get stronger. So, that's the goal."

Matusz said the process has taken a little longer than he expected.

"I wasn't sure about the injury and how long it would take, but I feel like it's gone well so far," he said. "I feel like I'm in a good spot right now. The pain is completely gone and I feel strong and I put myself on a good track to get out there on the mound."

Here's the Red Sox's lineup:
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Kevin Youkilis 3B
David Ortiz DH
J.D. Drew RF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
Carl Crawford LF
Marco Scutaro SS

Jon Lester LHP

Lester is 13-0 with a 2.33 ERA in 16 career starts against the Orioles. He's 6-0 with a 2.50 ERA in eight starts at Camden Yards.

He's due to lose.

Update: Matusz will, indeed, report to the minor league complex in Sarasota over the weekend. Chris Jakubauskas will begin his injury rehab assignment Sunday in Louisville when he pitches two or three innings for Triple-A Norfolk.

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