While waiting for the lineup ...

SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles are having another meeting this morning, this one involving the Major League Baseball Players Association, so the clubhouse is closed to the media until batting practice ends around 11:30 a.m.

Jeremy Guthrie used to be the Orioles' rep, but he's gone. We're not sure who has taken his place.

Sidney Ponson was the rep for one year. Seriously.

I haven't seen a lineup posted, but Brian Matusz will oppose the Phillies' Roy Halladay. And you can bet that most of the regulars will be starting for the Orioles after yesterday's day off.

Guys went fishing. Guys played golf. Guys slept late. Jake Arrieta threw four innings in a minor league game and played golf.

Nick Markakis will make his first start in right field today.

Matusz hasn't allowed a run in his last two starts covering eight innings. He shut out the Phillies on three hits over four innings, with no walks and four strikeouts, back on March 10 in Clearwater. At least one scout clocked his fastball at 95 mph.

I've heard both sides of the Matusz argument - once while eating dinner before a recent game.

One side says he should be optioned to Triple-A Norfolk, no matter how he's pitching here, and really earn his way back to Baltimore - something he didn't necessarily do last summer. That's why the Orioles brought in so many pitchers. They wanted to send a message to the young hurlers that nothing would be handed to them this spring. And it wouldn't hurt to spend a little time with Rick Peterson, the Orioles' pitching development coordinator.

That side says it would shatter Matusz's confidence to be on the 25-man roster on opening day, get shelled and be demoted.

The other side says Matusz, if he continues down this spring path, will have earned a spot in the rotation. The Orioles challenged him to get in better condition and put up better numbers, and he's done both.

The conditioning part can't be argued. I'll agree, however, that the numbers part is based on a small sample size. We're talking the last two starts. He allowed three runs and six hits in two innings against the Pirates on opening night at Ed Smith Stadium.

That same side points out that it would send a bad message to Matusz and the rest of the team if he's cut after being one of the five best starters in camp. And wouldn't it shatter his confidence more if he's demoted despite having an outstanding spring?

More from that side: Matusz isn't just getting hitters out. His stuff has been outstanding. There haven't been a lot of "loud outs," something that manager Buck Showalter tracks during each game.

Matusz hasn't walked a batter in 10 innings. He's struck out 13.

It's also worth noting that Zach Britton probably won't be ready for opening day. Tsuyoshi Wada and Alfredo Simon also are behind the other starters. The competition is thinning.

Let's see how Matusz does today, and which side of the argument earns bragging rights.

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