Matusz makes what could be final rehab start

Orioles starter Brian Matusz (left intercostal muscle strain) tossed six scoreless innings for Double-A Bowie Saturday night, a strong second rehab start that could be his final tune-up before rejoining Baltimore.

Matusz — who was placed on the 15-day disabled list prior to making what would have been his first start of the season — threw 70 pitches for Bowie, allowing just three hits and a walk. The 24-year-old lefty also picked up a strikeout in the no-decision outing.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said prior to Saturday’s game in Baltimore that he wasn’t learning “one way or the other” in terms of whether Matusz would get a third rehab start. But given Saturday’s strong showing, and the fact that Matusz was economical enough to go six innings within his pitch-count limit, only furthered his case to be activated sooner rather than later.

Matusz is expected to be in Baltimore for the team’s Sunday afternoon game, and the earliest he could start for the Orioles would be Thursday’s home game against Kansas City.

In two Minor League outings, Matusz –who also made two starts in extended spring — has allowed a run on five hits and two walks, striking out three over the 10-inning stretch. His return will force either Chris Tillman or Brad Bergesen out of the starting rotation, although one of them could shift to the bullpen and avoid going to Triple-A Norfolk.

Tillman, who is Sunday’s scheduled starter, is 2-3 with a 5.35 ERA in eight starts, while Bergesen is 1-5 with a 5.64 ERA in nine games (eight starts). Of the two, Bergesen would be the more likely candidate to be moved to the bullpen/swingman role, given that he made the team’s Opening Day roster in that capacity and Tillman has never pitched out of the bullpen.

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