FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -The latest Orioles star of the future went through his first official major league workout yesterday, and Brian Matusz freely acknowledged that he felt like the newest kid on the block.
"It's pretty overwhelming," he said as he prepared to take the field. "I don't really know what's going on yet, but I'm kind of excited to figure out the schedule, meet people and get settled in. Right now, it's pretty exciting. I'm just trying to take everything in, meet as many people as I can and have fun with it."
That's probably the right attitude to take into your first spring camp. There are people who think Matusz could start for the major league club right away, but he's too valuable to the organization to be rushed, so he's just here to get the feel of the place, and then he'll likely head for the minor league camp in Sarasota, Fla., in anticipation of his assignment to Single-A Frederick. Or, maybe, Double-A Bowie.
But that's then.
This is now.
"That's not something I really worry about right now," said Matusz, 22, a former University of San Diego standout taken fourth overall by the Orioles in last year's amateur draft. "I'm just kind of taking it day by day, having fun with it. ... I don't put a timeline on it. I'm up here to develop and become a better person and a better player every day. That's what I'm going to do. That's not up to me. That's up to player development to decide where I belong. I'm just going to get better every day, every week, and hopefully they put me where I deserve to be."
If Matusz felt like a rookie, it didn't show. Orioles manager Dave Trembley watched the way he carried himself during his first day of camp and summed it up this way:
"Intelligent," Trembley said. "I think he's very calm. I don't think he's awe-struck at all. There's a lot of kid in him. He worked out all winter at that API [Athletes' Performance Institute] with [Brian] Roberts, [Adam] Jones and all those guys and said it was really neat being around so many big league-type players. I watched him throw today. He's special."
Uehara throws today
Koji Uehara is the top media attraction in camp because the Japanese media greatly outnumber the handful of American reporters and bloggers who cover the Orioles regularly. That won't change all spring. He looked sharp during the afternoon fielding drills yesterday but did not throw off a mound. He is in the second throwing group, so his first bullpen session will be today.
Uehara held court with the Japanese media, then took a few questions through his interpreter. He said the drills are "basically the same" as at training camp in Japan but repeated that the major differences are the length of the workouts - they are much shorter here - and that the players move from station to station here.
Arrieta the Olympian
Jake Arrieta missed part of the season in the minor leagues last year to pitch in the Olympics but said he doesn't think he lost any time in his development as a potential member of the starting rotation.
"People don't think I pitched that much [for Team USA], but I got four or five starts," Arrieta said. "I might have gotten two or three more starts in Bowie. I've heard people say they didn't think I should have gone to the Olympics, but that's something virtually nobody gets an opportunity to do."
Everybody who is supposed to be in camp is except Dominican pitcher Alfredo Simon, who has been delayed because of a lingering visa problem. His arrival could be held up for as long as 10 days, but club officials do not seem particularly concerned about the time he'll miss because he pitched in the Dominican Winter League and should not be far out of game shape when he finally gets here.