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Buck Showalter just completed his morning news briefing, and he reported that Brian Matusz pitched two innings in an extended spring training game at the Sarasota complex. Matusz threw 12 pitches in each inning and will make his next mound appearance on Wednesday.

The timetable for his return to Baltimore is uncertain. Showalter said his first five-inning outing is scheduled for May 21, and he could make that start here if the club's bullpen is in shape to go long that day. More likely, Matusz would return to the O's rotation on May 26 and be available to pitch about six innings.

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Luke Scott is scheduled for an MRI on Monday to determine the cause of persistent soreness in his right shoulder. Scott continues to play regularly and he lashed a double off the right field scoreboard on Friday night, so the injury does not appear to be debilitating.

The standings remain fairly tight from top to bottom in the AL East, which seems fortuitous for the Orioles in light of the injuries to Brian Matusz and J.J. Hardy and the offensive struggles of the club through the first five weeks of the season.

"If I said I haven't noticed that, I wouldn't be being completely honest,'' Showalter said. "I'm more concerned with what we're doing, but to (be close to getting) J.J. and Brian back, (Alfredo) Simon and possibly (Justin Duchscherer)...to have two starting pitchers and your shortstop out for a period of time, in some ways we're fortunate to still be engaged."

No major changes in the lineup today, but Showalter said that he has considered shaking it up a bit to snap the club out of its offensive doldrums. Nick Markakis continues to struggle and continues to work very hard in the video room and batting cage to get back in a groove, but Showalter acknowledged that his right fielder is pretty frustrated right now.

"He knows he's close,'' Showalter said.

Associated Press file photo

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