Trop of the morning to you

I must say, 4:45 a.m. arrived pretty early this morning.

That makes sense, right?

Why am I up at 4:45 a.m.? Because I have a 7:45 a.m. Southwest flight to Tampa that's not going to wait for me, unless the pilot is a big fan of the blog.

(I know there's an "upright and locked position" joke in there, but we'll leave it alone.)

I'm covering the three-game series at Tropicana Field. Jeremy Guthrie vs. Jeremy Hellickson tonight (all Jeremy's get in for half-price), Brad Bergesen vs. Wade Davis tomorrow afternoon and Jake Arrieta vs. Andy Sonnanstine Sunday afternoon.

Good thing the Orioles decided to play 12 innings last night. Nice timing, guys.

The game would have been completed in under two hours if it lasted nine innings.

Anyway, I'm flying out of Tampa at 6:55 p.m. Sunday evening, so the 1:40 p.m. game will have to move along or I'll be packing up my laptop without a final score in it.

It seems like at least six weeks have passed since I was at The Trop.

The last time I was there, Brian Matusz was scratched from his start and wore a look of dejection that I hadn't seen since Peter Schmuck found out that "all you can eat" doesn't mean you get to turn out the lights.

Coincidentally (rather than ironically), Matusz will throw a bullpen session this afternoon at The Trop. Pitching coach Mark Connor was supposed to observe, but he's in Tennessee for his son's law school graduation. Bullpen coach Rick Adair will take notes for him.

The plan still calls for Matusz to start Monday night at Single-A Frederick and most likely on May 21 at Triple-A Norfolk before the Orioles consider activating him from the disabled list.

"The only thing that might change that if we get two or three real deep starts where we've got a full bullpen to cover a five-inning start," manager Buck Showalter said. "I think you're going to definitely see him pitch at least once at Norfolk provided that everything goes well in Frederick. Keep in mind, this guy didn't really have a ball in his hand for four weeks. He's basically going through spring training again. For everybody that may think we've been overly cautious, there's two sides to that."

Speaking of "two," Matusz was supposed to be the No. 2 starter. Hard to believe we still haven't seen him pitch.

Zach Britton basically has become Matusz this season, except for the rookie status. I expected Matusz to be the dazzling lefty in the rotation, and there's still lots of time for him to fit that description.

Nothing wrong with a rotation that includes Guthrie, Arrieta, Britton and Matusz. I could live with it.

Not too far away from The Trop, Justin Duchscherer will pitch a two-inning simulated game this morning at Twin Lakes Park in Sarasota. He's still a possibility to be activated on May 30.

The Orioles might actually break out the 25-man roster that we anticipated back in spring training.

The current one still includes Jake Fox, who scored the winning run last night after replacing Vladimir Guerrero on second base.

Yes, Fox was used as a pinch-runner. Not exactly the role we envisioned for him back in March.

Fox didn't envision it, either, which explains the following exchange with Showalter that took place in the dugout in the 12th inning:

Showalter: "Fox, get in there."

Fox: "To hit?"

Showalter: "No, get in there and run."

Fox: "Really?"

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