CHICAGO -- Count Orioles pitching coach Rick Adair among those who believe left-handed pitcher Brian Matusz has made significant strides despite the 25-year-old's stats, which include an 0-2 mark with a 8.38 ERA in his first two starts.
Asked if he was worried about how the start to this season might affect Matusz -- who went 1-9 with a 10.69 ERA last year -- Adair said, "No, not at all."
Matusz is coming off a solid spring campaign that earned him a spot in the Orioles' rotation and Adair said one of the biggest changes for the lefty -- who is in noticeably better shape -- is learning to trust his physical ability.
"He's obviously been through a lot of changes, he's stronger. He's got better stuff, there's no doubt about any of that," Adair said of Matusz, who has gained back the velocity on his fastball that was missing for all of 2011. "And with the changes that he's made, there's also still some things to overcome because of old habits. How his body worked last year when he was weaker, he still kind of gets in those moments.
"And he doesn't understand that he doesn't have to be as [fine]. He doesn't have to try to throw as hard or make perfect pitches. He needs to trust what he's doing with less effort."
Matusz, a former first-round pick, was highly critical of Sunday's 5 2/3 innings in Toronto as he struggled with fastball location. So far this season, he has allowed nine earned runs on 13 hits and eight walks over 9 2/3 innings.
"This is so frustrating, you know," Matusz said following Sunday's loss, which ran his career-high losing streak to 11, the longest active stretch in the Majors. "I know what went on last year, I know it was a horrible year and so far I'm off to a horrible start, at 0-2. And it's building up. And it's frustrating, and it's flat-out not getting the job done."
Matusz will get another chance to turn things around in his next start Friday in Anaheim, when the Orioles open a weekend series against the Angels.
"I'm not concerned about him at all," Adair said. "The results haven't been good, but he's made a lot of good pitches. He's made mistakes at the wrong time obviously. He's gotten himself in trouble with walks in the zone. But he's gaining understanding of what causes all that. And he's making constant adjustments. And I feel real good about where he is. I really do."