SARASOTA, Fla. -- After a tough 2011 season, Brian Matusz will make his Grapefruit League debut at Ed Smith Stadium on Monday, when the Orioles conclude a split-squad day by hosting the Pirates in a 7:05 p.m. ET game airing on MLB.TV.
Matusz, who has never faced the Pirates, is excited for the opportunity, and he is hoping to face former high school teammate Nick Evans, who is a non-roster invitee in Pittsburgh's camp.
Prior to facing the Pirates, the Orioles will hand the ball to Alfredo Simon when they play the Rays in a 1:05 p.m. contest in Port Charlotte. According to manager Buck Showalter, "about 80 percent" of the decision of who will pitch first had to do simply with someone just needing to be first, although part of that thought process also had to do with the organization wanting to make things relatively smooth for Matusz, who is coming off a tough 2011 season.
Matusz wasn't over-analyzing the decision either.
"It's just my day to throw, that's about it," said Matusz. "I'm thrilled to have the opportunity, be the guy to start the first game at home. [The] first day of spring is always special to everyone, fans here in Sarasota, fans back in Baltimore and the whole club and team, so I'm fired up about it."
Starting pitchers are expected to pitch two innings in their first turn through the rotation.
Tommy Hunter and Dana Eveland are slated to pitch in Tuesday's 1:35 p.m. game vs. the Red Sox in Fort Myers, Wei-Yin Chen and Chris Tillman will face the Twins at 1:05 p.m. on March 7, Jason Hammel and Armando Galarraga will pitch vs. the Braves at 1:05 p.m. on March 8, and Jake Arrieta gets the call vs. the Rays at 1:05 p.m. vs. the Rays.
The O's will also play a pair of intrasquad games, which are not open to the public, at Ed Smith Stadium this Friday and Saturday.