ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. ——Brian Matusz won't have to wait long to return to the Orioles' rotation.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Saturday that the struggling left-hander will oppose the New York Yankees in Monday's series opener in New York. Matusz was originally scheduled to face the Tampa Bay Rays today before he was pushed back to get another bullpen session in before his next start.
Matusz is 1-7 with a 9.07 ERA. He has given up six runs or more in his past five starts, and he's lost his last seven outings. In three starts since coming back from a month and a half demotion to Triple-A Norfolk, Matusz is 0-3 with a 9.56 ERA, allowing 23 hits, five home runs and six walks in 16 innings.
"I never want to miss a start, of course, but it's not frustrating," Matusz said. "I need to work on getting my pitches down to both sides of the plate. It's pointless to be frustrated over it. I'll just work on my stuff and get comfortable out there."
With Matusz in line for Monday, Showalter said that Tommy Hunter, who was hospitalized after his previous start because of stomach sickness, would start Tuesday in New York. Hunter threw a bullpen session today and said that he feels much better.
"I've never had that before, but it sucked," said Hunter, who was throwing up between innings while pitching last Thursday's series and home stand finale against the Toronto Blue Jays. "I just got sick. I don't know how else to explain it."
Zach Britton, who beat the Tampa Bay Rays here Friday, will likely face the Yankees Wednesday. Showalter still hasn't determined where Jo-Jo Reyes will slot back in the rotation. Reyes is away from the team to be with his wife who gave birth to a boy, Hudson, on Friday.
Strop eager for opportunity
Pedro Strop's first day in a new clubhouse Friday was hardly a nerve-wracking experience for the 26-year-old pitcher who the Orioles acquired this week from the Texas Rangers as the player to be named later in the Michael Gonzalez deal. In fact, it was more like a reunion with friends.
Seated near him in the clubhouse were Zach Phillips and Willie Eyre, two of his former teammates coming up in the Texas Rangers organization. Across the clubhouse was Vladimir Guerrero, who Strop also played with in Texas, though their relationship goes beyond that. Strop grew up in the same Dominican Republic area where Guerrero is from.
Strop also got to know two members of the Orioles coaching staff — pitching coach Rick Adair and first base coach Wayne Kirby — from their days in the Rangers organization.
"I knew they were going to make it real comfortable for me," Strop said.
Strop, a hard-throwing reliever who has struggled through control issues, has made 33 appearances with the Rangers over the past three seasons, posting a 7.24 ERA. But he's never been able to establish himself as a regular big leaguer, and he hopes that changes with the Orioles.
"I feel pretty good because I know I'm getting a good opportunity to pitch," Strop said. "It's a good opportunity for my career. It's a great organization and I feel good about it."
Elite company for Hardy?
Among American League shortstops, J.J. Hardy entered today seventh in batting average (.270), first in home runs (26), third in RBIs (67) and first in slugging percentage (.505). Defensively, he leads qualifying shortstops in fielding percentage (.990) and has the fewest errors (five).
He has, at the very least, put himself in the conversation for a Silver Slugger award and a Gold Glove, but history says that Hardy winning both is extremely unlikely.
Robin Yount (1982), Cal Ripken Jr. (1991) Alex Rodriguez (2002-03) and Derek Jeter (2006, 2009) are the only A.L. shortstops to win a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award in the same season.
Around the horn
Chris Davis (right shoulder strain) will play rehab games Sunday and Monday for Double-A Bowie. Davis will play first base one day and third base the next … Infielder Robert Andino scored his 49th run Friday, eclipsing his career total in 173 games entering this season … The Orioles Player Development Department named Single-A Frederick infielder Jonathan Schoop Player of the Month for August, and Keys left-hander Jacob Pettit Pitcher of the Month. Pettit went 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA in five starts for the Keys during that period, while Schoop batted .336 with eight doubles, a triple, four homers and 21 RBI in 28 August games … Single-A Delmarva strength and conditioning coach Pat Armstrong has been named the South Atlantic League Strength Coach of the Year.
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