O's Matusz getting better

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Clearly, this is a different Brian Matusz.

A stronger, better-conditioned one. And a much more effective one.

On Saturday, Matusz threw four impressive innings at the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Orioles improved to 4-2-1 this spring with a 1-0 win before 9,725 at Bright House Field.

Matusz's first spring game wasn't very good. Against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday, he allowed three runs and six hits.

His second time around, he was facing a much better team. The Phillies had many of their regulars in the lineup, and Matusz allowed three hits in four innings. He didn't walk a batter and struck out four.

It was somewhat of a surprise when, after a fine three innings, manager Buck Showalter wanted to send him out for a fourth. Not to Matusz.

"I knew it was a possibility," Matusz said.

In the fourth, after he allowed a double to Shane Victorino with one out, then he struck out Jim Thome and Hunter Pence.

One onlooker had him timed as high as 95 mph. Now, that was a surprise to Matusz.

"I didn't know that," he said. "I felt like it was coming out pretty good. I wasn't sure how hard it was."

Matusz threw a nice bullpen session this week, and said he is feeling more and more confident.

"Absolutely, getting stronger physically in the weight room as well with the long toss and refining the mechanics, so I feel I was powerful out there today, powerful and explosive," he said.

And those last two strikeouts impressed catcher Matt Wieters.

"It was nice to see probably some of his hardest pitches were that last inning. He was trying to finish that last inning," Wieters said. "So it's good to see this early in camp."

Matusz is hardly guaranteed to make the team. Not coming off a 1-9 record and a horrifying 10.69 ERA.

He doesn't want to talk about last year, but Wieters will.

"Yeah, it's a different guy from last year. I think he realizes that last year he had a tough year, but now he's back to being the Brian we know he is," Wieters said.

Showalter had a scary Friday when he saw Nolan Reimold take a pitch on the left jaw. He nervously watched the game, awaiting news on Reimold. He was relieved when he heard that it was nothing serious.

In two days, he has two feel-good stories.

"If the highlight of the camp so far was Reimold's jaw not being broken, that may have been second," Showalter said.

Showalter has at times been frustrated with Matusz, and wanted him to get in better shape to get him a chance to have a realistic chance to fulfill his promise.

The winter workouts with Brady Anderson seem to have paid off.

"He's put in so much this off-season since the last pitch was thrown," Showalter said. "I want to see him getting a return. When you're doing the right things, I want to see him getting a return."

ODDS AND ENDS: The only run came on Chris Davis' fourth-inning home run. It was the Orioles' first of the spring. ... Showalter said he expects Reimold to play on Tuesday. ... Backup catcher Taylor Teagarden may be out a week with a strained back. ... Catcher Ronny Paulino, whose arrival had been held up by visa issues, reported to camp three weeks late. ... Mark Reynolds, who hasn't played the last two days with a strained back, will play on Sunday, Showalter said. ...The Orioles host the Boston Red Sox on Sunday. Dana Eveland, Chris Tillman, Luis Ayala, Darren O'Day, Zach Phillips and Pedro Strop will pitch for Baltimore. Jon Lester, Aaron Cook, Doug Mathis, Justin Germano, Justin Thomas and Tony Pena, Jr. are scheduled for Boston.

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