Orioles prepared to move Matusz to bullpen (with rotation update)

The Orioles have discussed placing left-hander Brian Matusz in Triple-A Norfolk’s bullpen, a move that is expected to happen in the near future and could lead to a role change in the majors.

Matusz is still scheduled to make another start for the Tides, but he most likely will be pulled from the rotation.

Manager Buck Showalter said the club has discussed this move for a few weeks, and the lefty is open to the idea. Anything to get back in the majors.

Left-handers are batting .223/.281/.384 against Matusz during his four seasons with the Orioles. Right-handers are batting .309/.373/.506. Also, Matusz is able to warm up quickly, which works in his favor as a reliever.

Showalter suggested that it may only take a few relief appearances before the Orioles determine whether the bullpen is the best fit for Matusz, who is 21-33 with a 5.51 ERA in 68 major league games, all as a starter.

“I think he’ll embrace it,” Showalter said.

Steve Johnson is available in long relief tonight and could start Friday or Saturday against the Tigers in Detroit. The rotation for the Red Sox series remains the same: Wei-Yin Chen tonight, Miguel Gonzalez on Wednesday and Chris Tillman on Thursday.

Update: Tommy Hunter is currently listed as Friday night’s starter, with Saturday TBA.

As I told you yesterday, Jason Hammel will throw in the bullpen again on Thursday and the Orioles will arrange a simulated game a few days after that session. Hammel will accompany the team on its next road trip.

Troy Patton will stay with the Orioles for Wednesday’s team photo before heading to Sarasota. Showalter joked that it’s going to be a crowded picture.

Patton’s sprained ankle created a more pressing need for the Orioles to trade for southpaw J.C. Romero.

The Orioles are still deciding how to create room for Romero on the 40-man roster.

Showalter said left-hander Zach Phillips is still an option to join the team at a later date.

“He’s gone through some ups and downs this season,” Showalter said.

Jim Thome will watch Dylan Bundy pitch tonight at Double-A Bowie and do a little scouting for the Orioles before heading home to Illinois on Wednesday. He’ll eventually report to the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota to get some at-bats in his recovery from a herniated disc in his neck.

Outfielder Endy Chavez is expected to play tonight for Norfolk. Infielder Ryan Flaherty will report to the team and could start tonight or later in the week.

The reports on left-hander Zach Britton were favorable last night despite the six runs he allowed in 3 2/3 innings. His stuff was as good as manager Ron Johnson and the coaching staff have seen all year. He just lacked fastball command.

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