ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Brian Matusz said he felt “real good” during today’s bullpen session, and he’s looking forward to Monday’s injury rehab start at Single-A Frederick.
Matusz threw three innings Wednesday in an extended spring training game before joining the Orioles today at Tropicana Field and throwing on the side for bullpen coach Rick Adair. He’ll fly to Baltimore on Sunday and pitch the following night for the Keys.
“I felt really good. I felt loose and I was hitting my spots,” Matusz said. “I’m ready to get going. And I’m excited to be back here and watch a game for a couple days and get back on track and the rehab start.”
Matusz said he treated the three innings in Sarasota like a regular game. He faced Minnesota’s Delmon Young in each inning and surrendered a home run on a changeup during the second at-bat.
“I had a little bit of the adrenaline, getting back out there,” he said. “It had been a while since I faced hitters in a real game and it was exciting. It came back to me. I felt good.”
Matusz will be limited to 55-60 pitches at Frederick. The Orioles are hoping he can go four innings.
“I’m excited to get back out there and do it again and be able to get four ups this time and make those adjustments between innings,” he said. “I’m excited to go to Frederick, where I started my pro career. I want to get back on track, just build up. I feel like I’m healthy and strong. I’ve just got to be able to get there. It just takes a little bit of time.
“I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. I don’t want to be freaking myself out and saying, ‘This is the deadline, this is what you’ve got to do.’ It’s just day by day, getting better and getting that comfort feeling.”
Matusz is expected to join Triple-A Norfolk for a May 21 start, when he’ll be extended to five or six innings.
“It’s tough to get ahead of yourself, especially at this point,” he said. “I’ve never gone through a rehab before. We’re treating this time as if it was my spring training, getting ready for the season. For me, my focus is on Frederick, on Monday being able to get my four innings in and to be strong for that outing. You can’t really take the next step without knowing how this one’s going to go.”
Matusz was scratched from his April 2 start at Tropicana Field and placed on the disabled list with a strained left intercostal muscle, but he’s been pain-free for a while and throwing all of his pitches.
“My fastball command has been really good, and in my bullpen today my slider and curveball were very good,” he said. “It’s just a little bit inconsistent at times, but it’s all there. It’s showing signs of all four of my pitches being really good. It’s just a matter of being more consistent throughout where my mechanics are working well. I’m getting there. I’m making improvements every day. Every time I get on that mound, it’s improvements, it’s getting my feel and getting my comfort and that groove.”
I’ll have a little more from Matusz in my next entry. Time to meet with manager Buck Showalter in the visiting dugout.