Orioles left-hander Matusz sees first 2012 start as fresh slate

The Baltimore Sun

For Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz, his first 2012 start on Monday brings a new beginning.

Matusz, who earned the No. 4 rotation spot this spring, will make his season debut against the defending AL East champion Yankees.

The 25-year-old Matusz wants to put last year’s disastrous season, when he was 1-9 with a 10.69 ERA and had two trips on the DL, behind him.

“It’s a fresh season,” Matusz said Sunday. “I don’t even remember last year. I’ve totally cleared it out of my mind and my focus is starting with a clean slate here and to get off on a good start.

A successful spring – Matusz pitched to a 3.65 ERA in six Grapefruit League starts and tallied a 7.3 strikeout-to-walk ration (22 K/3 BB) – earned him a spot in the rotation building off an offseason in which he showed a new dedication to his condition by working out with new Orioles assistant Brady Anderson.

“It’s definitely a special start,” Matusz said. “It’s been a long road this offseason, this spring to be able to fight back, to being able to make the team and then do that, pitching the way I know how to pitch. I’m excited to go out there and just pitch the game I love to play and just get back out there again.”

His rotation predecessors, right-handers Jake Arrieta and Tommy Hunter, set a high bar with back-to-back efforts of seven scoreless innings.

“Watching Jake and Tommy both go out there and throw seven shutout innings, it’s a pretty impressive start,” Matusz said. “I’m excited for my start tomorrow.”

Matusz’s first five career starts against the Yankees were all quality starts, but he pitched to a 14.84 ERA in two 2011 starts against New York.

“All the teams are going to be good,” Matusz said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the Yankees, Red Sox, anybody. It’s a big-league lineup. I’ve prepared really hard this spring, this offseason, so I’m excited to face the Yankees right out of the gate.

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