FORT MYERS, FLA. — Orioles lefty Brian Matusz has heard the rumors that he is on the trading block — and he knew that a good showing as a starter against a tough Boston Red Sox lineup on Friday afternoon may further that speculation. It's not a distraction, he said.
"I'm well aware of talks and things going on. But for me all I can control is what I can control," Matusz, 28, said. "To be able to go out and pitch and get extended and throw all four pitches and ... be able to pitch my game is really what it's all about."
Matusz allowed just two hits and struck out two batters in four scoreless innings during the Orioles' 11-5 victory. He threw 53 pitches, 36 strikes, and has allowed just one run in 10 1/3 innings this spring.
When asked about Matusz's trade status after the game, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette responded with a smile and said simply, "He really pitched a good game."
Exclusively a reliever the past two years — he had a 3.48 ERA in 63 games last season — the 2008 first-round pick made 68 starts for the Orioles from 2010 to 2012. The Orioles rotation is already six pitchers deep, but other clubs may view him as a starter — something he has always preferred to do in his career.
If interested clubs were waiting on how Matusz would fare this spring, they can't be disappointed with the results. And he's buoyed by his spring.
"I'm just kind of staying in the moment right now," said Matusz, who has made two exhibition starts. "Focusing on, 'Today was today.' and now we'll move forward to five days from now and prepare to pitch then."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said it is possible that Friday would be Matusz's last start this spring. Although it could be viewed as a trade showcase for Matusz, Showalter's reasoning for giving him another start was twofold: The club wants to stretch him out a little bit in preparation for potential long relief while also providing an alternative to having members of the 2015 rotation face division rivals this close to the beginning of the regular season.
Showalter dismissed the trade rumors as typical spring speculation.
"He hears that every year. Brian has had some success as a starter. And that's natural this time of year especially with some of the injuries going around," Showalter said. "But we are planning on him being part of our bullpen right now and some depth as a starter. But those types of things happen every spring, and he should just be honored that somebody's asking about it."