BALTIMORE -- When asked about his first start this season, Orioles lefty Brian Matusz didn't try to downplay the significance of Monday night.
"It's definitely a special start," said Matusz, who won a spot in the rotation with a solid spring on the heels of a 1-9 season with a 10.69 ERA. "It's been a long road this offseason, this spring, to be able to fight back to being able to make the team and then do that -- pitching the way I know how to pitch. I'm excited to go out there and just pitch the game I love to play, and just get back out there again."
Matusz called 2012 a "fresh season" and said on Sunday he doesn't waste any time dwelling on the past.
"I don't even remember last year," said Matusz, who turned in the highest single-season ERA in Major League history for a pitcher who started 10 or more games. "I've totally cleared it out of my mind, and my focus is starting with a clean slate here and to get off on a good start."
The 25-year-old Matusz went 1-1 with a 3.65 ERA this spring in six starts, allowing 10 earned runs over 24 2/3 innings and picking up 22 strikeouts with only two walks. In noticeably better shape, Matusz showcased improved velocity this spring and was able to make better in-game adjustments as a result of his physical fitness. He hopes to carry all of that over against the Yankees on Monday night.
"I've prepared really hard this spring [and] this offseason, so I'm excited to face the Yankees right out of the gate," he said.