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Zach Britton: For Brian Matusz, trade 'was kind of like a weight off his shoulder'

Zach Britton: For Brian Matusz, trade 'was kind of like a weight off his shoulder'
Sarasota, Fla. -- 02/19/2012 -- From left, Baltimore Orioles pitchers Zach Britton, Brian Matusz, and Jason Berken smile as they take part in warm ups on the first day of spring training at the Orioles' training facility Sun, Feb. 19, 2012. According to one reporter, at least 30 pitchers are said to have shown up. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun Staff) (File photo)

When Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz was traded to the Atlanta Braves Monday night, he shortly thereafter found himself in the hotel room of friend and teammate Zach Britton. Chris Tillman joined them.

The three pitchers, part of a wave of young Orioles pitchers who emerged on the major league scene together with bright futures but saw their paths diverge over time, told jokes about their time together in the organization and Matusz' future.

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"I thought he was happy," Britton said. "He was in a good spot. He feels like maybe this is going to be best for everybody, going somewhere new, getting a fresh opportunity. I wish him the best, obviously. It's not going to change our friendship or anything. I'm sure we'll cross paths somewhere down the road."

The Braves designated Matusz for assignment Tuesday morning, meaning that once he clears waivers he'll be free to sign with any team. Britton said the preceding trade was something Matusz knew was "probably going to happen."

"I think if anything, it was kind of like a weight off his shoulder," Britton said. "He was looking forward to hopefully going somewhere else and getting a new opportunity."

This season never really got going for Matusz, who had a 12.00 ERA in the majors after missing most of spring training with a back injury. But there was closure for him Monday, something manager Buck Showalter found when he spoke to him after the trade.

"He seemed to be in good spirits," Showalter said. "I think he knows this is a good thing for him in the long run. Now he kind of gets to pick where he's going. He goes home until everything clears.

"I know in the back of his mind, he'd love to have an opportunity to start. Hopefully, somebody will give him that. He'll be in the big leagues again, and he'll pitch well again. And I hope he does. We'll be pulling for him. He did a lot of good things for us, and will again in his baseball lifetime. But this too shall pass, and in the long run I think it'll be a good break for him and hopefully work out for everybody."

Showalter on Duensing: Showalter spoke highly of left-hander Brian Duensing, who signed a minor league deal after beginning the season in Triple-A for the Kansas City Royals' affiliate.

"He's a guy who has had some success at the major league level," Showalter said. "He had an out, and was pitching well where he was. He took it, and Dan signed him. … We added four pitchers that could impact us in some form, and hopefully, improve our bullpen."

Around the horn: Hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh bought the team new shirts bearing the word POFO, which stands for "productive outs for Orioles." The back reads: "The strength of the wolf is in the pack, and the strength of the pack is in the wolf." The players wore the shirts proudly Tuesday. … Right-hander Yovani Gallardo will throw a two-inning simulated game Saturday if his bullpen session goes well Wednesday, Showalter said. … Right-hander Tyler Wilson will start Wednesday. ... Left-hander T.J. McFarland went on the disabled list with a knee bruise he suffered Friday for Triple-A Norfolk

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