Matusz optioned to Triple-A Norfolk (with quotes)

The Orioles optioned left-hander Brian Matusz to Triple-A Norfolk after tonight’s game.

A corresponding move will be announced tomorrow.

Matusz is 1-4 with an 8.77 ERA in six starts since coming off the disabled list. He allowed eight runs and nine hits in 3 1/3 innings tonight in the Orioles’ 9-6 loss to the Cardinals.

Manager Buck Showalter said he’s not angry with Matusz.

“I just know he’s capable of better,” Showalter said.

Showalter also said that Norfolk will be a “better place for him to go to try to get better.”

The idea of putting Matusz on the disabled list didn’t come up in conversation tonight.

Showalter hinted that a reliever will take Matusz’s spot in the rotation, as long as future games allow it. In other words, if someone like Brad Bergesen, Alfredo Simon or Jason Berken is available to start.

Buck Showalter talks about optioning Brian Matusz to Triple-A Norfolk

Here’s Showalter on Matusz:

“He was crisper early on. Didn’t hold it. Some issues with the command again. His fastball really hasn’t been an option for Matt. He’s trying to go down and away to (Matt) Holliday and drifts it back in the middle. Command and just the crispness of his fastball isn’t there.”

“I just told Brian that we’re going to option him to Norfolk. We’re not going to take him with us to Atlanta, and try to get him in a place where he can hopefully be in a better environment for him to get back to where he needs to be. He’s had 10 to 13 starts, so to speak, depending what you want to count as that, so we’re pretty far down this road for it not to be better than it is. I’m not mad or unhappy with him, I’m just frustrated for him because we know he’s capable of better. It just hasn’t happened here right now with the environment he has to pitch in. It would be different if we had never seen it before. We’ve seen better, so it’s a better place for him to go to try to get better.

“I think he needs to get the ball every fifth day and continue to work on some things that he’s aware of. It’s a tough time for him. He’s a young man who hasn’t had much failure pitching in his career, but just about everybody does at some point. It’s how you handle it. We’ve talked about this with him before.

“That’s not the first time I’ve talked to him, and he understands certain things. It’s hard for me to say, but it might be a little bit of a relief to him. He’s competing against the best hitters in the world here every night. At some point, he’s going to make that huge jump from Triple-A to the majors again, and hopefully he can get back.”

Are the Orioles positive that it’s not a health issue?

“Of course not,” Showalter replied. “Nobody ever is. You never know that for sure. You can only base it on what he and the trainers... What else do you have to base it on other than what they tell you? The arm swing is good, he throws some crisp breaking balls now and then, but he’s just not able to carry things. I understand that’s what you usually look at. Believe me, I’ve had pitchers who two or three days from now talk about something else. I’m not going to sit here and smugly say it’s definitely not. I can only go by what he tells me and what everybody else says. I’m not going to sit here and just say blindly it isn’t, but all indications are that it isn’t, and that’s what’s a challenge because we all want to know why. I’m right there with you.”

Asked how long Matusz is expected to stay at Norfolk, Showalter replied, “I think it’s way too early to handicap it. I just had a tough conversation with a young man who I think is going to be a good pitcher in the major leagues, and I’m not going to put an open-end, closed-end... Go get better. It’s pretty simple. Hopefully, it’s not something other than what it is.”

As for who will take Matusz’s spot on the roster, Showalter said, “I probably shouldn’t jump the gun, Andy (MacPhail) had an idea of what we’re going to do. It would not be a starter until we needed a starter the next time in his spot. It would be somebody else, but I don’t want to start talking about that in case Andy changes his mind. But you can do your investigative work and figure out who the options are - some one from within the current roster.”

To clarify, it sounds like the Orioles will bring up a reliever to take Matusz’s spot on the 25-man roster, and perhaps plug one of their current relievers into the rotation.

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