Orioles take Matusz out of starting rotation

Orioles take Matusz out of starting rotation

Orioles take Matusz out of starting rotation
NEW YORK -- Struggling Orioles starter Brian Matusz was removed from the team's starting rotation following Monday's four-out outing, and the 24-year-old lefty -- who could be used out of the bullpen -- will work with pitching coach Rick Adair on getting back to the form that had him projected as the team's No. 2 starter coming out of camp.

"There are two sides to it," manager Buck Showalter said Tuesday of the decision to not give Matusz another start. "I'm a father first. I don't like to see anybody get beat up on. I don't think that Brian is at a point right now where he can defend himself properly. It's not going to be a matter of him throwing 94 or 93 miles per hour. He can pitch just like he is, stuff-wise. It's just command issues and repeating his delivery and a lot of things he's aware of.

"I feel for him, but not to the point where ... he knows nobody is going to feel sorry for him in that other clubhouse. He's got it. He understands a lot more than what people may perceive about what's going on."

Matusz tied the shortest non-injury start of his career, with 1 1/3 innings of five-run ball at Yankee Stadium and has pitched to an 11.42 ERA in four starts since being recalled from Triple-A. He is 1-7 with a 9.84 ERA on the season.

"Obviously failure is not fun," Matusz said. "I'm going to continue to learn from it. And I'm sure at one point down the road, I'll be able to look at it and say, 'I learned a lot from that season.' That's the overall goal.

"But I'm going to keep at it. I like playing this game, that's the reason why I'm here. I love this game, I love doing it, I love being around the guys and having that challenge of going out there and competing. So for me, I'm going to keep at it and keep a positive attitude."

Those positives are few and far between this season. Since missing the first two months with a left intercostal muscle strain that forced him to the disabled list after making the Opening Day roster as a frontline starter, Matusz has been unable to find his footing. The Orioles' first-round Draft pick in 2008, Matusz was the American League Rookie of the Month last August, going 6-0 with a 1.57 ERA in his last eight starts down the stretch and finishing the season tops among AL rookies in strikeouts and games started.

That dazzling form has been missing in 2011. Matusz has one win in 11 starts, a 5 1/3-innings outing against Oakland that was followed with seven consecutive losses before Monday's no-decision.

"I don't know that he's doing us any good or we're doing him any good [by keeping him in the rotation]," president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said of Matusz after witnessing Monday's game.

While Matusz has admitted he didn't come to camp in the best shape, he has made an effort to get back on track with his conditioning and maintains that his struggles aren't a result of injury.

"Placing the exact reason on one thing, would be nice," Matusz said of his struggles. "It'd be nice to be able to do that and fix that problem. But for me, I'm not going to sit here and waste my time trying to figure out what the exact reason is. I'm just going to continue to work on things I need to do to be a better pitcher, and that's it."

"He's got a pretty good idea of where he is -- mentally, physically and emotionally," Showalter said. "Maybe we might get him back out there for some spots where he might pitch an inning or two and kind of see where he is with some of the things that I'm sure he'll be working on. He's got a lot of work to do between now and next April. I look forward to him coming back and competing for a place on our team next year."