Hearing from Showalter and Matusz (Hunter update)

At the risk of bombarding you with too much news and too many quotes, here are a few comments from manager Buck Showalter that came from his pregame session with the media.

On Jason Hammel’s simulated game:
“Hamm’s thing went well today. We’ll see how it feels tomorrow before we kind of set the next part of his schedule. But so far, so good.”

On Tommy Hunter:
“Not sure yet whether we’re going to option Tommy to Bowie or Norfolk. See where it fits best. Both those clubs’ seasons end on the 3rd, which is 10 days.”

On Brian Matusz:
“His last two outings have been real good. We did back-to-backs with him. He had a day off yesterday. And we’ll see if it plays up here. I think he’s looking forward to having a chance to make a contribution to our club in a role we need with Troy (Patton) out. He’s also a guy who can give you some length, but if he shows you he can do the job, you’d rather not burn him out for two or three days if you can help it. I think he’s still got a chance to be a real good starting pitcher, but where we’re at as a club, if you look at his numbers and splits over his career, it’s something we’ve been thinking about if the need ever arose. And it has.

“I’m confident in his abilities, I don’t know if it’s going to play up here. We’ll see. Only one way to find out. They don’t have a 4A league. It’s a need we obviously have and Brian is our best option at this point. We’ll see where it takes us. We know how important having those two or three guys down there played into last year. (Zach) Phillips is doing well and we’ve got some other options we’re looking at.”

On Steve Johnson starting Saturday:
“We felt all along that’s what we hoped to do. When we made the evaluation with (Wei-Yin) Chen and Miguel (Gonzalez), we need to give them a little extra time, as long as we didn’t have some emergency where Steve had to pitch really extended there in Texas. It actually worked out perfect. The inning he threw (Wednesday), couldn’t have hoped for a better situation for him to get some work in. As well as he pitched last time, I didn’t want him to get too far away from it. Hopefully, he can continue the good
contribution he made to us last time.”

On starters listed as TBA Wednesday and Thursday:
“It’s going to be that way. We’ve got different options that can fall on different days with the off day and stuff. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion the way we’ll go, but a lot of it is gong to be determined over the next five days.”

Here’s Brian Matusz, talking about his role change:
“Everything’s happened so fast, making the transition from starter to reliever. I’m excited to be here and contribute any way I can and I’m looking forward to getting going.

“It’s never easy, switching positions. Well, it’s the same position, but I look at it that it’s still pitching. You still have to get the hitters out and you’ve still got to throw strikes and attack the zone. I had some struggles at first, but was able to learn and make some adjustments and have some good outings and be able to get this opportunity to be here now.”

On his toughest adjustment:
“Just being able to be ready every day, as opposed to throwing every five days. You’ve got to be able to throw every day and just be prepared to pitch and be able to compete on a day-to-day basis. It’s something that’s new to me, but it’s exciting. It’s fun to know I have an opportunity to be in the game every day to help the team win and it’s something I’m looking forward to doing.

“You’ve still got to get the guys out. Doesn’t matter what point in the game, whether it’s the first inning or the ninth inning. You’ve still got to make pitches to get the guys out and attack the zone. It’s still kind of the same game.”

On whether he’ll ask relievers for advice:
“Yeah, absolutely. I’m looking forward to getting out in the bullpen and learning from the guys who have been around a while and have been doing it for years. This game is about continuing to learn. Keep learning and picking up new things every day. I’m excited to do that.”

On whether he was surprised to be in Norfolk for this long:
“I didn’t exactly put a timetable for myself. It was just a matter of going down there and getting better and improving every day. Obviously, with the role change things were different, but accept that and just keep getting better and focus on what I need to do to help the big league club. That’s what it’s all about.

“I made some improvements working down there with Mike Griffin, just being able to tighten things up a little bit and just attack the zone and get a better understanding of the game on what pitches work for me and how I’m able to get guys out. Now it’s a different role being a reliever, so it’ll take a different approach in terms of being ready every day, but like I said, it’s still getting guys out. That’s the name of the game.”

UPDATE: Tommy Hunter has been optioned to Double-A Bowie.

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