Orioles reliever Brian Matusz arrived in the clubhouse today around the same time that the media was allowed inside. He joked about not getting a tan in Sarasota so teammates wouldn’t tease him about being on vacation instead of serving an eight-game suspension that ends before Sunday’s game.
Matusz chose his words carefully when asked about Major League Baseball’s decision to uphold his suspension. Brewers reliever Will Smith had his suspension reduced from eight to six games for the same infraction - using a foreign substance on his arm.
“It is what it is,” Matusz said. “It’s really ... they said eight games, so it’s eight games.
“Will Smith ... I’m not going to say what I really want to say, but no. Will Smith, he lucked out, he got the better end of the deal.”
The Orioles were convinced that Matusz would receive the lesser penalty.
“I think there were many people that thought that way, but he got six, I got eight,” Matusz said. “It’s what happened. It is what it is.”
Matusz made good use of his time at the Ed Smith Stadium complex.
“It was real productive,” he said. “I was able to throw two different live outings, both outings two innings, so just able to get work. Work with Brady (Anderson), work with Scotty McGregor. A non-pressure situation and being able to throw all four pitches and just compete.
“We made the best of it working out and getting stronger and faster. Staying in good shape and staying prepared to perform and be back here on Sunday.”
Matusz had to fight the feeling of letting down his teammates.
“Absolutely, it’s a terrible feeling,” he said. “The bullpen, fortunately, has been doing a great job. Hopefully, I’ll be activated tomorrow and pick up some of the slack. It’s great to see that we’re turning a corner and winning ballgames. It’s been a frustrating last couple weeks, so just the fact that we’re winning is a good feeling.
“We’ve been awesome. It’s a lot better feeling being in Florida and watching the games and seeing that, that we’re winning ballgames and that we’re playing well. The bullpen’s been clutch. I think, what, four scoreless yesterday and the day before? Zach (Britton) has been going multiple innings. Everybody’s been great out of the bullpen. Its great to see that and great to win ballgames, especially with the team being punished by only having 24 players with this incident. So it’s great to see that we’re winning ballgames. It’s a better feeling.”
Other Orioles in Sarasota are rehabbing injuries, including second baseman Jonathan Schoop and pitchers Wesley Wright and Jason Garcia. Matusz was working under a different set of circumstances and trying not to feel detached.
“I just made the best of the decision that was made,” he said. “Just made the best of - I wouldn’t say an opportunity, it’s not really an opportunity - but made the best of what was given. Brady and I worked, and Scotty McGregor, we worked and we tried to make the best of it and get better and use our time wisely. Throwing innings, being able to face hitters and it’s really all we could do is make the best of an unfortunate situation.
“It flew by. It really did. It wasn’t fun sitting back at night watching games on TV. It was a different aspect watching the games from the MLB package or what not, but it flew by. But I’m glad it did.”
Matusz, who threw a bullpen session yesterday, was asked what he’ll do to improve his grip after being suspended for using rosin on his arm.
“I guess I’ll hold onto the ball tighter. I don’t know,” he said. “Obviously, I’ve just got to find a way. Don’t know how to answer.
“The rosin is there, it’s provided, so that’s always a good solution.”
As long as it isn’t applied to his arm, of course.
Matusz is 1-2 with a 3.44 ERA and 1.527 WHIP in 17 appearances this season. He’s walked 11 and struck out 14 in 18 1/3 innings.
“You see how he comes out of spring training when he starts out with a changeup and he pitches multiple innings every outing, so I’m confident we’re going to get pretty sharp guy tomorrow,” Showalter said. “I hope so. He’ll get a chance to pitch.
The Orioles remain annoyed by the suspension, feeling that the ejection in Miami should have been the extent of his punishment.
“You see (Esmil) Rogers last night with the rosin bag,” Showalter said. “I want him to grip the ball well, a sweaty night. I really do. You get rosin everywhere, it’s a legal substance. We were told you couldn’t put it our your arms. That isn’t true.
“Our dermatologist wants our guys to wear sunscreen. Obviously, it’s been quite an edict from the MLB office about making sure guys put sunscreen on in spring training and what have you. It’s kind of tough.
“(Rosin) is a legal substance. We were told you can’t put it on your arms, but I guess you can, depending on how much you’re sweating.
“They’ll fix it. I think they’ll fix it this offseason. It’s been a problem for a while.”
MLB doesn’t announce the results of appeals or offer an explanation for the descrepancy between Matusz and Smith.
“They’re not going to let me know,” Showalter said. “I’ve heard some things. I can’t feel confident enough in that was the reason.”
Showalter made sure reporters knew about the club’s decision to release infielder Everth Cabrera.
“It’s up to him. He’s going to have a lot of options available to him now,” Showalter said.
“You don’t go down that road that we went with him last week if you don’t feel good about your replacements. I’ll answer it that way. He played some shortstop for us at a pretty good level until we got J.J. (Hardy) back. He’s capable of swinging the bat better. He’ll get an opportunity.”
Showalter also provided an update on pitching prospect Dylan Bundy, who hasn’t pitched at Double-A Bowie since May 21 due to inflammation in his right shoulder.
“I saw where Bundy is going to have another MRA just to verify that everything is gone,” Showalter said. “Not like they have a problem or are looking at something. I saw that today. It’s soon.”
The Orioles soon will announce the signings of a batch of 2015 draft picks.
“I know they’re into the fiscal stages on a lot of the draft picks,” Showalter said. “A lot of them agreed to terms. It’s just about getting physicals before you sign off on it.”
For the Yankees
Brett Gardner LF
Chase Headley 3B
Alex Rodriguez DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Carlos Beltran RF
Didi Gregorius SS
Stephen Drew 2B
Mason Williams CF
CC Sabathia LHP