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May 21, 2011

Matusz shines in rehab outing; Izturis the bullpen coach; Jones hustles; Guthrie impresses

About 40 minutes away from where the Orioles snapped a four-game losing streak with a much-needed 8-3 victory over the Washington Nationals today, Brian Matusz pitched six scoreless innings for Double-A Bowie against Erie. He allowed three hits and a walk while striking out one. In two rehab stats -- his first was for Single-A Frederick -- Matusz has allowed one run on five hits and three walks while striking out three over 10 innings.

Matusz, the 24-year-old lefty who hasn’t pitched in the big leagues this season with a strained left intercostal muscle, was restricted today to either six innings or 75 pitches. He threw 70 pitches to get 18 outs, leaving the Orioles to decide whether they want to promote him and have him make his next start with them Thursday or Friday, or make one more rehab start.

“I’m not leaning either way,” said Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who will undoubtedly consult with pitching coach Mark Connor and bullpen coach Rick Adair before deciding. Adair was at Prince George’s County Stadium today to watch Matusz (right). “Let’s see what happens.”

Adair's being with the Baysox prompted an unusual moment at Camden Yards, where injured infielder Cesar Izturis was serving as the Orioles’ bullpen coach in his absence.

That created a communication mishap before the start of the top of the seventh inning, which led to Jim Johnson running out from the bullpen while Jeremy Guthrie was on the mound readying to start his warm-up tosses. Johnson ran about halfway in before heading back to the bullpen. Guthrie threw a scoreless seventh, then Johnson did come into the game in the eighth and put up a zero.

“That was the Izturis factor,” Showalter joked. “He was helping us in the bullpen today because Rick left about halfway through and went to Bowie for Matusz. A little miscommunication. He was warming up in case Jeremy couldn’t get out of that inning before. I think he was at 98, 99 [pitches]. We’ll work on that. It’s funny now, right? I’m glad I didn’t see it.”

Izturis also laughed off the miscommunication and said the only thing that mattered was that the Orioles got a "W" in his debut as bullpen coach.

The Orioles also made one other coaching change for the day, with bench coach Willie Randolph and third base coach John Russell switching roles. Russell had a cortisone injection in his knee and wasn’t able to take his spot at third.

I thought Randolph, who coached third for Showalter in New York and earned the nickname “Wave 'Em Home Willie,” made a great send of Adam Jones in the third inning on Nick Markakis’ single to left that Laynce Nix bobbled. But I also give credit to Jones for running hard the whole way, picking up his base coach and not just assuming he’d get stopped at third.

Orioles left fielder Nolan Reimold, who hit a game-tying two-run homer earlier in the inning, said Jones’ hustle fired up the team.

“You never assume anything,” Showalter said. “You’re trying to get across to your base runners that you run until you’re stopped and don’t be the third base coach. You run, because you really can’t see the things going on behind you. You need to give the third base coach a chance to make a good decision. I think most times you see something that looks like it’s not a good decision because the base runner assumes that he’s not going."

And finally, the Nationals came away impressed with Guthrie, who allowed two unearned runs in seven solid innings to get his first win since Opening Day.

“A pitcher like that, when he starts to get in a rhythm, he’s definitely tough to beat,” said Nationals third baseman and former Oriole Jerry Hairston Jr. “He’s been around for a while now, and he’s got good stuff. I think as far as velocitywise, that’s probably as good as I’ve seen him throw.”

Said Nationals manager Jim Riggleman: “We didn’t do much against him. We got two unearned runs there, but he’s tough. He’s done this to us before.”

Matusz photo courtesy of the Bowie Baysox

Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 9:05 PM | | Comments (31)
Categories: Minors
        

Comments

Jeff-
It must get tiring to cover a second rate team and work for a second rate newspaper.
____________________________________
Response from Steve Gould:
I won't speak for Jeff, but I'd imagine it's less tiring than responding to comments from people who neither support their arguments nor provide their actual email address to allow us to respond to their criticisms.

As far as Matusz, finally we get some good news. I am anxious to finally see what a rotation looks like with Matusz, Britton, and Guthrie (and a solid Arrieta, for that matter) in there. That's 3-4 nights per 5 where the team has a real shot to look like a legitimate majorleague team. Perhaps justifying the path the franchise has been following the last several years, on going all-in on the pitching side of things.

Impressed by Jones' consistent hard baserunning.

I must admit I was starting to get skeptical about his supposed 5-tool, All-Star talent potential, but I've seen a marked improvement in almost every aspect of his game.

Top 3 rules for Baltimore Sun writers who cover the Orioles:

1. Never ask critical questions.
2. Always suck up to the team.
3. Never execute critical reporting.

And enlighten us Mario...what would you do? Plaster the paper/website everyday with negative articles about how horrible this team is and no one should support them?

What's funny is you (and others) harp on the supposed bias of the Sun writers, yet you fail to look in the mirror and see your own negative bias, constantly taking things to the other extreme. You don't like the O's or the Sun? Then get a life and beat it. Don't worry, you won't be missed.

Get a life Mario...

Agreed with Christopher's last post.

Take your negative sniping somewhere else, "Mario." No one here cares.

The writers here are all very good (and I was a journalism major as an undergrad, and editor of the newspaper) - and I specifically want to commend Jeff Zrebiec for his continued excellent posts.

Well said Christopher...a guy like that either needs to find another team to follow or another paper to read...or both! He obviously took the time to look at the site and this article got another view from him...what a loser! Keep up the good work Bmore Sun!

As a new O's fan, I'd like to hear from old hand Orioles fans regarding juggling the hitting lineup--I'd like to see Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy and Matt Weiters bat lower and for Reynolds and (my fav. player) 'Vlad, lower.
West Coast sports fan in exile in Fort Worth
P.S. How about the 3 or 4 standout Pac-12 players shining (or who have shined) for the Ravens: Suggs, Ngata, Heap and McCalister.

Mario, nobody is forcing you to read the Sun or this blog. If you don't like it, surely you have something else you would rather do. Expend your energy there, instead of being a hater. Otherwise, I'm going to have start typing out appropriate Taylor Swift lyrics or something and none of us wants me to go THERE! :).

Thanks for the updates.. I was wondering about the third base coach situation today. I listened on the radio, but was gardening at the same time and missed any update that Joe and Fred gave.during the game.

Keep up the good work guys.

Jeff, Do you have a story planned on Pedro Beato and Matt Albers? It would be interesting to find out why the team just gave up on two young pitchers who are thriving this year.

...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: No story planned, but I was going to revisit the Beato thing on a blog tomorrow. They just didn't think he was major league ready and they needed to protect him. Doesn't look like a wise decision now. As I've said many times, the Orioles ability to evaluate their own talent has been one of their foremost problems over all these years of losing. As for Albers, he didn't thrive last night if you look at the box score. it's no secret that Albers has quality Major League stuff, but consistency is always the issue. It's funny that people are lamenting this decision. Every time he came into a game last year and gave it up, we had tons and tons of comments about why Albers hasn't been dumped yet.

OK, so if we have Matusz, Britton, and Guthrie and Arrieta giving us four strong outtings out of five (and assuming that Tillman is not the guy), who do we have on the farm who can be that last guy?

Has anyone noticed that Adam Jones is (almost) a .300 hitter now? His on base % up to .344. And I have certainly noticed the hustle on the base paths.

..............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: I have. I've said several times here, but he has thoroughly impressed me since Day 1 of spring training. Still like to see show a little more plate discipline, but his defense and baserunning have been stellar. He's doing enough offensively too. Yesterday, he had the bunt that started the two-out rally, ran his but off to score on that Nix answer and then hit a groundball to move up a runner late in the game. Just real quality stuff.

Sorry! But I'm going to have to side with Mario the mysterious on this topic. The Showalter factor is over and its time for this organization to start answering some tough questions. For example, I always hear that the O's are spending enough money under the current Mcphail plan to compete. Really? Mark Teixeira was finally asked why he chose to go to the Yankees vs the Orioles. The answer, the offer given to him through his agent by the O's was the lowest one out of the three. The Orioles still have holes at 1st, 3rd, and left. They still need a frontline starter, setup, and closer. The last time i looked there wasn't anyone in the minors even capable to fill those roles. I guess my point is after 14 years of losing everyone seems to be really happy with just getting by. Some really tough questions need to be asked, and unfortunately for myself, but fortunately for everyone else, lol, I don't have the credentials to be in the locker room.

...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: MacPhail has been asked the Texieira question 15 times over the past three years. His take was Teixeira's camp made it very clear that he wasn't interested in coming to the Orioles, and that he had enough respect for the franchise where he wouldn't use their offer to get one at one of the places that he wanted to go - Boston and New York. How many times does this have to be reviewed? Regardless of what Teixeira said in that story, he didn't want to come here. End of story.

For all you goodie two shoe posters out there that constantely tell people to take there negative comments somewhere else GET A Life. See to you they are negative comments to the realistic posters on here they are the truth.Yesterday i gave Jeff Z tons of credit for answering my question should Andy M finally start taking serious heat for this teams performance and all the bad free agent acqusitions that this team signed He said Yes and as far as he was concerned he should have started taking heat last year.

Thats great but here's where i will start to make my point. When i asked him why he wasn't taking any heat that fell on deaf ear's and was ignored. It's the media's responsibilites to start rasing issues and start asking those tough questions but they won't. Point 2 Jeff z's post about Brian roberts not coming aback on tuesday , i said that it was best to just cut ties with him because he has showed the last 2 years that you can't depend on him anymore to avoid injuries. I then said privately the orioles would be sorry that they gave both brian and nick those huge contract extensions, The answer in his opinion were yes they would be.But again nobody ever brings up those issues when they under perform. See so all you posters that jump on Mario for telling you that the sun doesn't ask any hard questions are all wet. See my posting right now will be viewed as being negative but the way i view things if you are in the media and you feel a certain way about things then you should be able to ask and follow up on the hard issues when need be.

...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: Ignored? I answered your question and it wasn't brief either.

Perhaps "love' is an overused term, but I love baseball. Playing it and watching it have provided some fine moments in my life. But, to use another over worked cliche, "at the end of the day" it's just a game. Sure, it's a boy's game played by men for billions of dollars and for many it's their livilhood. But no one's life hangs in the balance if a team wins or loses. We're surrounded by so many genuine problems, tragedies and calamities, baseball for me and many others is a much needed diversion. To debate for a few minutes whether the batter should bunt or swing away rather than worry about foreign plocicy and the national deficit is a healthy break that allows us get back to the really important stuff in life refreshed. I'm passionate about my Os, but, don't take the game too serious, men.

Jeff doesn't need anyone to stick up for his professionalism and credibility.

But as someone who used to compete with Jeff for stories on the Orioles beat, I can say that nobody that covers the Orioles is better at his job than Jeff. Nobody does it with the class and professionalism that Jeff does, and nobody asks as many "hard-hitting" questions as Jeff.

His beat reporting has been - and continues to be - the the best day-to-day reporting in this sports section. And this sports section remains the most comprehensive and professional media outlet covering Baltimore's professional sports.

...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: Thanks for the kind words. That's really nice of you to say.

If Izturis was in uniform while serving as temporary bullpen coach, I think the O's broke one or two rules. Izturis is not one of the O's uniform coaches, and the number of them is limited. If Izturis was not in uniform, I don't know what to think. I wonder if there is enough there for the Nationals to lodge a protest.

Jeff,

Don't be tempted to think the vocal minority represents your readership well. You do a great job and provide tons of depth. Please keep up the good work.

Jeff,
Now that Simon is here and Matusz is a week away, can we finally cut tiesw with Gonzalez? He can not pitch anymore and he you can see his teammates have no faith in him. And please don't give us the excuse that they owe him money, whoi cares you have to pay him whether he sits on the bench or not, so why not give someone else a chance to pitch.

...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: I just don't see them doing it. I'm not saying I disagree with you. But 10 days ago, Gonzalez pitched several consecutive dominant outings and everybody was saying that he's back. Now, he's a lost cause again. Tough call but I think the Orioles feel there is still something there and it wouldn't be prudent to just dump him if you're paying him anyway. But I would agree in that, I'm not sure how long this can go on.

hey jeff...u do a great job and i really enjoy ur comments.
have u ever looked at the totality of mcphail's/orioles trade/acquisitions over
his stewardship. i think the only real
success has been jones...the bedard
trade. it seems to me all the other trades/acquisitons have been marginial
at best. ur comments

...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: Yeah, we've analyzed that plenty. I still think the two main trades - Bedard to Seattle and Tejada to Houston - were successes. I know people pan the Astros trade, but they got some decent stretches out of Sarfate and Albers, who knows about Patton, and Scott has outperformed Tejada and was the team's MVP last year. And as I've said many times, to get rid of Tejada a day before the release of the Mitchell Report was big. It certain;y wasn't this huge victory in the deal and not a huge difference maker, but I'd still rate that as a positive. I still think the jury is out on the Sherrill deal. My biggest problem with MacPhail's trades are that he's never gotten anything for any of these one-year rental guys. They sign these one year guys and they haven't been able to turn them into young talent or draft picks. But part of that is poor talent evaluation. The one-year guys they've signed just mostly haven't produced enough to get anything in return.

Jeff i want to apologise to you about my latest posting, i didn't go back and see your indepth reply to my posting yesterday.I agree with you in many ways but if someone is hired to fix the situation and is given 4 years and it's not any better then somebody has to start to question that situation. I as a fan can't ask questions or write articles that is why i truly believe i's the media's responsibility to do that.

Blancione - Guess what smart guys, Roberts played in 155 or more games three straight years prior to last year. This year he has played in 39 our of 44 games. You are the one out of touch. His recent DL hit is because of a concussion - not his body breaking down.

Also, its not exactly like 2B who hit 50 doubles are a dime a dozen.

Yet you are bitter because his SBs are down a little this year. Without him, this team got off to a historically bad start last year, and then all of a sudden played .600 baseball once he got back in the line up.

You are a joke if you don't realize how important he is. Who do you want to bat lead off - Pie. Enjoy having him run you out of innings once a week because he is the worst baserunner on the team, possibly in the game.

I would understand concern over his health, but your wishing they let him go just proves you are an idiot.

Should MacFail be fired - yes. Should the team cut ties with Roberts - absolutely not.

Hey donkey don't tell me what he did 3 years ago. Tell me what he has done since last year NOTHING. He is not going to get any younger so lets not revisit what he did prior to him breaking down. You provided me stats that are lame just like yourself sir. Everybody tries to justify something with stats. He has without a doubt shown that he is undeoendable what part of that can't or don't see.

Blancione - Ok, last year once he got back from being injured he played great and the team all of a sudden played at a .600 clip.

This year he was playing awesome until a bad 0-26 streak, which are bringing down his stats because its EARLY. This year his body breaking down consists of him missing fewer games than Hardy or Matusz, who I guess we should both cut. Also, he has played like 38 of 45 games or something like that - I posted the exact number for you earlier.

Right now, he isn't out because his body is breaking down, he is out because he has a concussion.

And also smart guy, who is your alternative. Andino? Adams? A "broken down" Roberts is better than either of them. And if he is on the DL with concussion symptoms, it costs you nothing since those guys are playing anyways. At least make a sensible arguement.

Pedro Beato must have a grudge against the O's as I just watched him choke away a game against the Mets.

Correction to what I'd written re juggling the Orioles' offensive lineup--I'd bat 'Vlad #3 instead of 4--and still move the other guys lower in the lineup--something it looks like, in-part, Buck's done--was Wieters always batting ahead of Reynolds--even from opening day?
Go 'Vladdy.

Correction to my earlier post: I'd bat 'Vladdy third to get him more at bats and still have Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy also bat earlier in the lineup and Reynolds later. I know Texeira's a Baltimore-area native, still, the O's could do w/o his bad attitude and his habit of waiting 'til June to start hitting (something he's done every other year of his career except this season).

blancione, re mario: as I've said on here many times, it's not always WHAT you say, but HOW you say it that matters...even if mario is 100% correct in his assertions (and I wouldn't go that far), being correct about something does NOT carry a requirement to behave like an [jerk] about it...

Jeff, you report the news, which is your job, and I dig it. If you to see some boot-licking, read about the hokies in the Roanoke times.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.


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