Manager Buck Showalter casually mentioned the Orioles’ plans to convert left-hander Brian Matusz to a reliever. He was asked whether he was disappointed that Matusz and Jake Arrieta hadn’t dominated at the Triple-A level. He noted that Arrieta usually is bitten by one bad inning. Then, he surprised reporters with news about Matusz’s changing role.
Showalter and executive vice president Dan Duquette have discussed the move with Norfolk manager Ron Johnson and pitching coach Mike Griffin, among others.
“When you look at Brian’s numbers in his career here and down below, he’s been very effective against left-handers, so I think that’s something you’ll probably see us do here very quickly,” Showalter said.
“It’s something Brian has talked about before, I know to Brady (Anderson) and some other guys. 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.”
Is Matusz better suited for a relief role than Arrieta and Zach Britton?
“We don’t know that for sure,” Showalter said. “If you look at his left-on-left numbers through his career, he has the best of that. When you have three or four right-handed starters, you really like to have a left-handed guy who’s capable of pitching multiple innings, because the lineup’s going to be primarily left and you can really get back in a ballgame with somebody like that.
“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.”
Left-handers are batting .204 against Troy Patton this season. Patton went on the disabled list today with a sprained right ankle.
“It is extremely frustrating. Very, very, very frustrating,” said Patton, who’s strung together 17 consecutive scoreless appearances. “I haven’t felt as good as I’ve felt recently on the mound my whole career. It’s very frustrating and it’s frustrating for this team in the situation we’re in, facing lineups heavy with left-handers. I would be used a lot the next few days. I feel irresponsible that I put them in this situation.”
“It’s tough,” Showalter said, “but what are you going to do? I’m not going to beat him up over it, you know? You have to start taping ankles away from the ballpark too.
“He’s not trying to get hurt. I mean, walking through the (parking lot), stepped off the curb. He was talking about the last time he did it. Very similar.”
Patton has rolled his ankle two or three times, making him more susceptible to similar injuries as it becomes weaker.
Endy Chavez is starting in left field and leading off tonight for Norfolk. Ryan Flaherty is playing second base and batting third.
Future Hall of Famer Jim Thome will be scouting Dylan Bundy tonight at Double-A Bowie. Thome asked Showalter how he could help the club while he’s on the disabled list, and the manager came up with the idea.
“I said, ‘Do you want to do something?’ He said, ‘Yeah, how could I contribute?’ I said, ‘Why don’t you go over to Bowie, stand behind the backstop like this (in batting stance) and tell me what you think about facing Bundy,’” Showalter said.
“He’s in. He’s so fired up. He’s like, ‘What time are we leaving? I’ll be back before the game with the report, skip.’ He’s fired up. It’s like it’s his first year in the big leagues, you know?”
For the Red Sox:
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Pedro Ciriaco DH
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Cody Ross RF
Ryan Lavarnway C
Carl Crawford LF
Mike Aviles SS
Danny Valencia 3B
Josh Beckett RHP