Socolovich leaves with groin injury

LAKELAND, Fla. - Miguel Socolovich came out of today’s game against the Tigers with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth inning because of tightness in his groin.

Jon Link allowed all three inherited runners to score, and Socolovich was charged with the loss.

“He wanted to continue, but we’re not going to take the chance,” manager Buck Showalter said after a 4-2 loss. “We had enough pitchers we brought with us.”

Socolovich joins the groin gang in camp. They’ll eventually rumble with the lower-back and hamstring gangs.

“I don’t want any of them to happen,” Showalter said. “You look at every one of them and how they got to that point. They’re all different looks.

“I wouldn’t say it’s been more than usual. It’s just that there are a lot of these that you would continue to pitch or play during the season, but you’re just cautious with it right now.”

Brian Matusz provided the day’s highlight with four more scoreless innings.

“He backed up his last outing with another good one. That’s good to see,” Showalter said. “He’s throwing the ball well. It’s a couple games on the road against what we like to call home game lineups. It’s early, but I just like to see the ball come out of his hand good, commanding all his pitches regardless of where and who he’s facing.

“I’m happy for Brian, as much as anything. He has a good look on his face. He has a little different look in his eye. The question is, will that go away at some point? Right now, he’s put himself in position to be good and he’s getting a return for it. I’m excited for him.”

Matusz threw 41 of his 60 pitches for strikes.

“When you feel better about your stuff, you attack the strike zone more,” Showalter said. “It’s not that fear of the barrel of the bat as much. And he’s doing a lot of things right now to take people off the sweet part of the bat, which is what pitching is.”

Endy Chavez went 2-for-3 with a home run and two runs scored, and he had an outfield assist. He’s batting .421 this spring.

“He’s had a good spring,” Showalter said. “You can see why he was coveted. We had a lot of competition for him. He’s a really, really good fourth outfielder and somebody you think might be more than that and bring something on the day they play. I wouldn’t preclude him getting some playing time. He’s the type of guy who’s going to push people, and you’re always trying to figure out a way to get his name in the lineup. He brings some energy to the game.”

Nick Johnson had his second double of the spring.

“I’ve been impressed with his bat speed,” Showalter said. “He’s in a good place right now. You can see it in his eyes. First time he’s really swung pain-free in two or three years. I like to see that with him.”

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