Notes on Brian Matusz, pitching and more

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Getting to JetBlue Park is a relatively easy task. Getting into the parking lot is much more complicated if you arrive an hour before first pitch.

David Ortiz, who has announced his retirement following the 2016 season, is playing his final game here today. The Orioles are braced for whatever delays are forthcoming, including an on-field ceremony that just started a few minutes ago.

Brian Matusz black.jpgLeft-hander Brian Matusz sounded encouraged by his outing yesterday in an intrasquad game at Twin Lakes Park. He's still expected to go on the disabled list, retroactive to March 25, but the back issues may finally be - wait for it - behind him.

"I felt good," he said. "It felt good to go out there and complete. I threw about 18 pitches. It feels good to pitch and be here today and getting ready to pitch again tomorrow, so that's a good feeling."

There hasn't been any talk right now of pitching Matusz on back-to-back days or extending him beyond an inning. Baby steps are needed to avoid being tripped up.

"I think the plan right now is just to play it day-to-day," Matusz said. "Today is I guess kind of a rest day and then be back out on the mound tomorrow and pitch an inning and then go from there."

Matusz is confident that the strained muscle in his back has healed.

"I am, yeah," he said. "One hundred percent."

Today's game features Mike Wright as the starter and Tyler Wilson as most likely the first reliever out of the bullpen - and his primary competition for a starting job if there's an opening.

It's a intriguing twist to the proceedings.

Other relievers listed include Brad Brach, Mychal Givens, Pedro Beato, Todd Redmond, Ashur Tolliver, Donnie Hart and Andy Oliver - the last three from minor league camp.

Position players from Twin Lakes Park include catcher Chris O'Brien, infielders Corban Joseph, Ozzie Martinez, Garabez Rosa, Trey Mancini, Michael Almanzar and Drew Turbin, and outfielders Mike Yastrzemski, Julio Borbon and Cedric Mullins.

Miguel Gonzalez remains the starter for Tuesday night's game against the Braves in Sarasota, followed by Chris Tillman on Wednesday night against the Tigers and Yovani Gallardo Thursday afternoon against the Braves. Three home games to close out the Grapefruit League portion of the schedule.

The Braves are starter former Orioles right-hander Bud Norris on Thursday. Norris is 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA in five starts covering 18 2/3 innings. He's allowed 15 runs (14 earned) and 24 hits in 18 2/3 innings, with six walks and 16 strikeouts.

Norris signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract in November after going 2-9 with a 7.06 ERA in 18 games (11 starts) with the Orioles and being released on Aug. 8.

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