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After layoff, Orioles' Brian Matusz entering big series vs. heavily left-handed Mariners

After layoff, Orioles' Brian Matusz entering big series vs. heavily left-handed Mariners
Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Brian Matusz throws against the Minnesota Twins in the ninth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 11, 2016, in Minneapolis. The Orioles won 9-2. (Jim Mone / AP)

The four-game visit this past weekend from the Detroit Tigers was fruitful for the Orioles as a whole, and as a result many of the individuals inside the clubhouse.

For left-hander Brian Matusz, the team success had to suffice, as a heavily right-handed Tigers lineup kept him from getting a chance to string together the types of outings that could help him steady his season.

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Matusz made his best appearance of the season on May 11 in an 11-3 win over the Minnesota Twins, but hasn't pitched since, leaving him to continue his daily routine of workouts and preparation without an opportunity to build on it.

That figured to change against a Seattle Mariners team with seven left-handed hitters and two switch-hitters on its roster. And, indeed, Matusz was summoned in the fourth inning on Tuesday to relieve Ubaldo Jimenez.

"Obviously, this hasn't been the start that I'd been hoping for, but you've got to look at the positives," Matusz said. "I'm healthy. The ball's coming out fine. My pitches are good, but just every day, just working, playing catch with Zach Britton, working on my delivery and just keeping things compact and simple. Just waiting for that next opportunity to go out and pitch the game that I know I can."

Matusz's scoreless inning on May 11 lowered his ERA to 8.31, and was his most efficient outing since coming of the disabled list with a back strain that caused him to miss most of spring training and the beginning of the season. Since his return, he has struggled to get results as the team's dedicated left-handed specialist, and is being used sparingly.

Manager Buck Showalter said earlier this month that Matusz was still searching for it, but the team knows what he's capable of. Matusz was everything the Orioles needed him to be in 2015, striking out 56 batters in 49 innings with a 2.94 ERA. He held lefties to a .186 batting average a season ago.

Given that he feels healthy and feels like he's in a good place, stringing together a few outings against a first-place Mariners team that should give him plenty of chances in the game could be just what Matusz needs to jump-start his 2016.

"I kind of more look at it as wanting to make an impact and help this team," Matusz said. "Personally, as much as I'd like to get out there and pitch and kind of get some confidence under my belt, for me, I look at it as with each outing, make an impact and help us win a ballgame.

"That's ultimately why we're all here as pitchers, especially in the bullpen, to help the team win. I'm definitely looking forward to that next opportunity, and hopefully those will get coming."

The first opportunity didn't go well. Matusz entered with two on and one out in the fourth Tuesday and immediately gave up a three-run home run to Kyle Seager.

Matusz wound up allowing four runs on five hits and a walk in 1 2/3 innings and his ERA rose to 12.00.

Showalter on Paredes

The Orioles lost outfielder/designated hitter Jimmy Paredes to division rival Toronto on waivers Monday, and Showalter said it's Paredes' dedication and work ethic that will make him missed, and led to the Blue Jays' activating him Tuesday.

"That's why he's in the big leagues today," Showalter said. "That's Jim. You get an emotional attachment to guys that care that much. He's a good teammate, a good player.

"You can't keep 'em all. That's why the system's designed the way it is, to keep people from hoarding players. It's designed to protect the guys that have the right service time and the right non-options to go somewhere else. That part of it, I like. Jimmy should get an opportunity if somebody wants to give it to him."

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Paredes was placed on waivers after his rehabilitation assignment expired. He suffered a wrist sprain in spring training, and the Orioles couldn't find a way to get him onto the active roster in time.

Gallardo on the mound Sunday

Showalter said right-hander Yovani Gallardo (right shoulder tendinitis) threw on flat ground out to 90 feet Monday, and will throw from 120 feet Wednesday and Thursday before moving to the mound Sunday.

The veteran right-hander began his throwing program Saturday after three weeks of strengthening, and said he was already feeling the effect of that work. Showalter said over the weekend that he had a schedule that also laid out Gallardo's rehab starts, but would only announce those after he threw off a mound.

Around the horn

Showalter was loath to comment on Sunday's fight between the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers during which Orioles nemesis Jose Bautista was punched in the face, as he doesn't know the whole back story. "It's an emotional game," he said. "It happens, not always right there where everyone can see it. It used to happen a lot more. We all have our personal thoughts on it." … Infielder Paul Janish, who joined the team straight from the birth of his third child on May 7, made his first start since then. Janish played third base, a position he last played in the majors in 2013 and last played in the minors in 2014.

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