The Orioles' experiment of making Brian Matusz a reliever begins tonight.
Matusz no longer will start Thursday night at Triple-A Norfolk. He's available to pitch out of the bullpen for tonight's game against Gwinnett.
Tides manager Ron Johnson summoned Matusz into his office yesterday and discussed the role change, which the Orioles believe could create a shorter path to getting the left-hander back into the majors.
Left-handed hitters are batting .223/.281/.384 against Matusz during his four seasons with the Orioles. Right-handers are batting .309/.373/.506.
Matusz is 21-33 with a 5.51 ERA in 68 major league games, all as a starter.
"I'm excited about the opportunity and about trying something new," Matusz said this afternoon. "I'll find a good routine that works for me. I'm looking forward to it."
The Orioles haven't proclaimed that Matusz is viewed strictly as a reliever for the long term. They're going to let him pitch out of the bullpen for a few games and decide whether he's ready to handle that responsibility in the majors, perhaps while Troy Patton is on the disabled list with a strained ankle. It's pretty open-ended at this point.
"It's something Brian has talked about before, I know to Brady (Anderson) and some other guys," manager Buck Showalter said yesterday. "It's something he would welcome if it would help us and also help him get back to the big leagues. We want to let him do it a couple times before we consider him an option, as far as getting up, short notice, get ready, come into a game. I'd be surprised if he can't do it and do it well. It also would give us some length down there.
"I'd be surprised if Brian couldn't do it. And I think the other part of it is he will embrace it, I think. I think it's something from a need standpoint. I'd be surprised if he can't do it. We'll see. It's where we are. We're going to look from within and see what might fit. It's something we've been talking about a little bit for a week or two. He gets ready pretty quick. Until we get a couple outings from him down there, it's tough to really tell. It might be something that doesn't work out. There's only one way to find out."
Zach Clark will start tonight for Norfolk, followed by Dana Eveland on Thursday. The Tides list their next three starters as TBA, but the rotation still includes Zach Britton, Jake Arrieta and Jason Berken, who started last night.
For the Orioles:
Nick Markakis RF
J.J. Hardy SS
Nate McLouth LF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Chris Davis DH
Mark Reynolds 1B
Manny Machado 3B
Omar Quintanilla 2B
Miguel Gonzalez RHP