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Matusz latest in line of rookie arms

Matusz latest in line of rookie arms

DETROIT -- Pretty soon, he'll have the entire wardrobe. Baltimore manager Dave Trembley told an amusing anecdote about unassuming rookie Brian Matusz on Monday, one day before the rookie was set to make his big league debut. Matusz, who was unavailable for comment, lodged a special request with Trembley.

"I brought him in and talked to him a little bit, and he said, 'Hey Dave, you think I can get an Oriole hat?' He said, 'The only hat I've got is a Bowie Baysox hat,' " said Trembley. "I said, 'I think I can take care of you.' "

Matusz, the fourth overall choice in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, is the latest high-profile prospect to make his debut for the Orioles. Matt Wieters has already established himself behind the plate for Baltimore, and high-octane pitching prospect Chris Tillman joined the parent club last week after a stint at Triple-A Norfolk.

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Now it's time for Matusz, who has made just 19 starts in the Minor Leagues before his promotion. The southpaw started at Class A Frederick and outclassed his competition, and then he made the jump to Double-A Bowie. Matusz was even better there, logging a 7-0 record and a 1.55 ERA in his first eight starts.

Trembley, who began pining for Matusz in Spring Training, could hardly contain his excitement on Monday.

"I talked to Larry McCall this morning, his pitching coach in Bowie," said Trembley. "And he said he's the best one he's ever had. Larry's been with the Orioles for a long time. [Matusz] just has a presence about him and has command of his pitches. Hopefully, he can do that. But it will be exciting, to say the least."

Matusz, who was a two-time finalist for the Golden Spikes Award at the University of San Diego, has a polished four-pitch mix and was expected to progress quickly through the farm system. But not this quickly. Trembley can remember watching him in Spring Training and being told not to get too excited too soon.

"I also remember sitting up there behind home plate in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in a couple of the intrasquad games with Andy MacPhail," he said, speaking of Baltimore's president of baseball operations. "And looking at [Matusz] and Andy said, 'You can't have him right now.' He said the same thing about [Jake] Arrieta and Tillman."

Arrieta, for now, is still at Triple-A Norfolk. Matusz got the call after an injury to fellow rookie Brad Bergesen. The Orioles intend on gauging Matusz's progress over the rest of the season. The southpaw clearly had nothing left to learn at Double-A, and Trembley is ready to fill out a rotation with as many plus arms as he can.

"I think it's probably the most exciting time in a long, long time for the Orioles," Trembley said of Tuesday's debut. "For everyone who's been an Orioles fan, it's Christmas Eve. Tomorrow, we get to open another present."

Pitching matchup
BAL: LHP Brian Matusz (MLB debut)
Matusz joins the growing list of Orioles rookie pitchers this season when he makes his Major League debut against the Tigers. Matusz has spent the majority of the 2009 season with the team's Double-A affiliate, the Bowie Baysox, where he's compiled a 7-0 record.

DET: LHP Jarrod Washburn (8-6, 2.64 ERA)
Washburn will make his Tigers debut at Comerica Park trying to continue the dominant midsummer stretch that made him such an appealing starter on the trade market in the first place. He has allowed just three runs on 20 hits in 36 2/3 innings over his past five starts, all of them Mariners victories, including seven scoreless innings at Detroit July 23 and a complete-game one-hitter against the Orioles July 6 in Seattle.

Bird bites
The Orioles scored five runs in the first inning on Monday, a feat they had accomplished just once all season. ... Brian Roberts hit his 12th career leadoff home run and his second of the season. Baltimore's second baseman has hit safely in seven straight games and is batting .400 (12-for-30) during that stretch. ... Luke Scott doubled on Monday night and is now batting .488 (20-for-41) with five doubles and 23 RBIs in 12 career games against Detroit. ... Nolan Reimold has batted safely in seven of his past nine games and is hitting .407 (13-for-32) over that span. ... Baltimore is 31-24 when it scores first and 39-26 when it scores four runs or more. The Orioles are also 6-45 when outhit by their opponents.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• MASN HD

On radio
• 105.7 The Fan

Up next
• Wednesday: Orioles (Jeremy Guthrie, 7-10, 5.37) at Tigers (Edwin Jackson, 7-5, 2.64), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Orioles (David Hernandez, 3-3, 3.28) at Tigers (Rick Porcello, 9-7, 4.36), 1:05 p.m. ET
• Friday: Orioles (Jason Berken, 1-9, 6.93) at Blue Jays (Brett Cecil, 5-1, 4.36), 7:07 p.m. ET

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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