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Matusz on trade rumors

FORT MYERS— Orioles lefty Brian Matusz pitched four scoreless innings against the Red Sox on Friday afternoon and admitted that it’s hard to get away from the trade talks that have been swirling around him this spring.

“I mean, it’s no secret. I’m well aware of talks and things going on,” said Matusz, “But for me all I can control is what I can control. To be able to go out and pitch and get extended and throw all four pitches and mix. Be able to pitch my game is really what it’s all about.”

With Wei-Yin Chen and Kevin Gausman starting separate Minor League games on Friday, the Orioles have been stretching out Matusz again this spring and showcasing him as well. A part of the Orioles bullpen, Matusz made his second spring start against a lineup of Boston regulars and held his own. Asked if hearing his name mentioned as a starter candidate elsewhere was exciting, Matusz said absolutely.

“I don’t think there’s any secret there, what the ultimate goal is,” Matusz said. “But right now being an Oriole the goal is to go out and pitch and get better every day and control what I can control and do whatever I can to help this team win ballgames.

Matusz said the trade rumors haven’t been distracting an he’s been focusing on just trying to get better and work on his pitches this spring.

”I’m just kind of staying in the moment right now,” he said. “Focusing on today was today and now we’ll move forward to five days from now and prepare to pitch then.”

Orioles @ Red Sox lineups and pregame notes

*Matt Wieters won’t play until at least Wednesday, manager Buck Showalter said. Even as DH. The team is being cautious with Wieters, who is dealing with elbow tendinitis.

*Mike Wright has been optioned to Triple-A Norfolk and there are more cuts coming postgame.

*Showalter said Chris Tillman will pitch in a Minor League game on Tuesday. Pitching coach Dave Wallace is with Wei-Yin Chen and Kevin Gausman in Minor League games today.

*Alejandro De Aza is expected to return to the team tonight and could go on the road tomorrow. Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Delmon Young are among those making the trip.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Everth Cabrera SS
David Lough CF
Jimmy Paredes 3B
Travis Snider LF
Henry Urrutia RF
Steve Clevenger DH
Chris Parmelee 1B
Ryan Lavarnway C
Ryan Flaherty 2B

Brian Matusz LHP
RED SOX LINEUP
Mookie Betts CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Hanley Ramirez LF
Shane Victorino RF
Brock Holt 1B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Ryan Hanigan C
Christian Vazquez DH

Justin Masterson RHP

Wieters on his elbow and why he doesn’t feel this is a setback

Orioles catcher Matt Wieters was sitting by his locker this morning and he held court with the media to discuss the news that he has been shut down from catching in games for a week. Wieters, who had an X-ray on Thursday come back clean, is hoping that this break will prevent him from having a major setback. I’ll have a full story on Orioles.com soon, but here is the transcript:

[any concern?] “No. It’s a matter of we put in a lot of work in the nine months of rehab and the body was just telling me, ‘OK, we’ve put in a lot of hard work, let’s just take a little bit of a breather and let it calm down a little bit.’”

[what happened on Wednesday morning?] “It wasn’t really a different feeling, it was more of just kind of fatigue that I’ve been feeling throughout the whole time and we just pushed through. And it wasn’t a matter of hurting it, it was just a matter of it being able to be healthy and strong as quick as possible. We thought rest would be useful. We don’t really see it as a setback, we just needed to slow things down a little bit instead of trying to force through everything.” 

[on if this was a setback] “It was more of the body telling me to slow down so we don’t have that setback, that was more of it than anything. We’ve done a lot to it in the span of nine months and nine months was always the quickest possible scenario to get to a game. And we felt comfortable when I got in a game, like we had gotten the strength up to where it needs to be. The strength is there to play in a game now it’s just a matter of letting everything settle down and let my elbow tell me when I’m ready to get back behind the plate.” 

[Do you feel the need to try to DH Sunday because you’re behind offensively?] “No, and that’s where I feel we’ll play it by ear of how it goes. I feel like once the elbow is back to feeling really good, then the swing will come and the hitting will come. If we DH Sunday, we DH Sunday because it’s definitely doesn’t feel sensitive to the elbow when I swing. At the same time, even though I’m 0-for whatever, I feel just getting in the box and seeing pitches has been good this spring. It’s just a matter of more than anything, just getting comfortable with the elbow and cutting lose.” 

[on if he will need another throwing progression] “We shouldn’t. That’s the thing. It’s not a complete shutout, because we’re going to keep throwing. We’re just going to try to keep any stress or anything like that off the elbow, so we’re not doing real high intensity. We’re going to try to keep the arm in shape to where once we’re back and ready to go, the arm strength should be back where we left off.”

“I think we’re going to go week by week. We’ll take a look at it on Wednesday and see how it is and make a decision after that, and hopefully it will be good by Wednesday and be able to get back going. Like  I said, I think the hardest thing is when you come in each day, I’m trying to test it out each day and sometimes that doesn’t allow you to get the most rest. I really think the best decision was being able to kind of shut down the mental side of trying to test it every day and see how it is and now we can actually let it sort of relax for a week and see where we are after that.”

[How is this throwing progression different than games?] “It probably won’t be that intense. It will just a matter of picking up a ball and playing catch. We got to the point where we felt strong enough throwing the ball to second base. We’re not really doing rehab to get strength up now. It’s a matter of keeping the arm moving and keeping the maintenance and opposed to building.”

Wieters X-ray clean

Matt Wieters’ X-ray on his right elbow on Thursday came back clean and the Orioles catcher will continue to rest for at least the next few days in hopes of clearing up his elbow tendinitis.

“There’s no reason to have any other tests,” manager Buck Showalter said of Wieters, who had some soreness on Wednesday morning and was shut down catching for a week. “I talked to him when he got back. He felt good today. So, I feel confident we will get it going again here before long.”

Showalter said prior to the Orioles 6-4 win that the team wanted the X-ray as more of a precautionary measure to “make sure we had a baseline. Before and after stuff.”

The earlier Wieters could play in a game would be as designated hitter on Sunday. It’s unknown whether Wieters will have to re-start a throwing program once he’s cleared to return to catching before getting back behind the plate.

The All-Star catcher made his Grapefruit League debut behind the plate on Tuesday, but he came in the next morning with some soreness. The O’s decided to shut him down for a week to be on the safe side.

Pregame notes

*Matt Wieters is slated to get an X-ray on his right elbow on Thursday morning, a move that manager Buck Showalter said is a precautionary measure while the catcher is shut down for a week due to elbow tendinitis.

“[Head athletic trainer] Richie [Bancells] and them decided by the time I got back [from Wednesday’s game] they were going to set it up and get it done,” Showalter said of Wieters, who was expected back by the start of Thursday’s game. “Talked to Dr. [Michael] Jacobs a little bit and wanted to make sure we had a baseline. Before and after stuff.”

Showalter said Wieters, who wouldn’t even play at designated hitter until Sunday at the earlier, reported to be feeling better on Thursday morning though he didn’t speak with him directly. Wieters was in and out of the O’s complex briefly before going to get the test.

The All-Star catcher made his Grapefruit League debut behind the plate on Tuesday, but came in the next morning with some soreness and the O’s decided to shut him down for a week to be on the safe side.

*Alejandro De Aza left camp yesterday for his grandfather’s 99th birthday in the Dominican Republic. It was also his daughter’s birthday. He is expected to be back tonight.

*David Lough is available to play today. He had been dealing with a minor hamstring issue and hasn’t been available for a few days.

*Jason Garcia (hamstring) and Ryan Webb (knee) could return to game action this weekend, Showalter said.

*Also, the O’s are leaning toward having Ubaldo Jimenez take an extra rest day and pitch on Tuesday. Jimenez’s turn falls on the off day on Monday and the Orioles would rather have him stay on track in big league camp and not throw in a Minor League game that day.

Thursday lineup, Flaherty returns

Ryan Flaherty is back after taking a pitch off his helmet in Tuesday’s game, while Matt Wieters remains shut down with elbow tendonitis. Miguel Gonzalez will start on Saturday with Friday Brian Matusz. Kevin Gausman and Wei-Yin Chen will pitch in a Minor League game (or games) on Friday.

ORIOLES LINEUP

Manny Machado 3B
Travis Snider RF
Adam Jones CF
Chris Davis 1B
Delmon Young DH
Steve Clevenger C
J.J. Hardy SS
Jimmy Paredes LF
Ryan Flaherty 2B

Chris Tillman RHP

PIRATES LINEUP
Jaff Decker CF
Steve Lombardozzi 2B
Gregory Polanco RF
Corey Hart DH
Jordy Mercer SS
Sean Rodriguez 1B
Elias Diaz C
Pedro Florimon 3B
Gorkys Hernandez LF

Liz Radhames RHP

Orioles shut down Wieters for a week

Orioles catcher Matt will be shut down from catching for a week, as the All-Star –who made his Grapefruit League catching debut on Tuesday– came in Wednesday morning with elbow tendinitis. The team said it’s a normal part of the rehab process and isn’t a huge concern right now.

The earliest Wieters could play is Sunday at designated hitter as manager Buck Showalter said he just wants to let the whole area calm down for a few days.

“He could be cleared sooner. Things may change,” manager Buck Showalter said. “[He] talked with Dr. [James] Andrews today. It’s normal. It’s around a nine-month period. It’s not a setback. I’m surprised we haven’t had any of this before. He’s not feeling anything acute or anything…With all the time we have left, we thought it would be prudent to just try to get ahead of it. He’s been doing a lot of things on the half field and throwing program. He’s been doing things that he didn’t do when he was healthy. There’s been a lot there. His legs feel great, though. I don’t think it puts anything in jeopardy, but we’ll see.”

Wieters, who underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery on June 17, has been on track throughout his rehab to be ready for the Orioles season opener and Showalter said it’s too early right now to know if this tendinitis would change that. But should Wieters not be able to catch by the season opener could the club still have him on the Opening Day roster?

“Probably not,”Showalter said, “but don’t hold me to it.”

Wieters went 0-for-3 at the plate on Tuesday and had just one fielding play and no stolen base attempts. Still, Showalter said the game was a big step for him.

“He took infield. He had ups, downs, he had throws between innings. That was challenging and it was at a different speed,” Showalter said. “I don’t care what you do on back fields, where there’s just a different adrenaline flow, a different arm speed. There’s throwing the ball down between innings. He said he felt a little, what’s the word, just a little achy-ness, with a couple, maybe two out of seven throws. I think we don’t want it and Matt doesn’t want it to mushroom into something bigger than hopefully it is.”

Flaherty OK

Ryan Flaherty was back in the clubhouse and said he was fine after taking a pitch to the head in the sixth inning of yesterday’s game.

“I could have stayed in yesterday,” Flaherty said. “That was the first time I got hit in the head [at any level] but I think those new helmets are pretty good, I didn’t really feel it.”

“I’ll stay back and work out [today]. I feel 100 percent though.”

ORIOLES LINEUP

Everth Cabrera SS
Steve Pearce 1B
Travis Snider LF
Delmon Young RF
Steve Clevenger DH
Jonathan Schoop 2B
Jayson Nix 3B
Caleb Joseph C
Dariel Alvarez CF

Ubaldo Jimenez RHP

Flaherty and Norris notes

Ryan Flaherty was hit by a pitch off his batting helmet and immediately exited Tuesday’s game in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Leading off the bottom of the sixth with Twins up, 10-1, Flaherty was hit by lefty Brian Duensing‘s first pitch of the at-bat, and head athletic trainer Richie Bancells immediately came out to the field. Flaherty was able to walk off without assistance and was replaced by Jayson Nix.

****

Orioles righty Bud Norris was charged with three runs on five hits and a walk, allowing a pair of homers in the start. Norris said he feels good physically and is working on his mechanics and secondary pitches.

“We’re not far away,” Norris said of returning to in-season form. “I’m working on pitches and that to me is what I’m trying to see. When I’m getting nods back from [Matt] Wietey behind the plate saying saying, ‘Hey that’s a good pitch, that’s what we’re looking for, that’s the result I want to see.”

More on Wieters

Manager Buck Showalter made head athletic trainer Richie Bancells repeat three times this morning that catcher Matt Wieters had the green light –instead of red– on Tuesday’s injury report. It’s been a long wait for everyone as the All-Star catcher, exactly nine months removed from Tommy John surgery, finally stood behind the plate for his Grapefruit League debut against the Twins.

“It’s a lot of roads. It’s another road today he’s got to cross,” Showalter said. “It’s been a long process for him. I’m sure there’s been some times … It was a tough decision for him last year. It was something that was inevitably going to have to happen and I think he made the right move. It was tough on him watching last year.”

Wieters will eventually catch back-to-back, though that won’t happen anytime soon. There’s still a lot left to evaluate.

“As interested as I am in seeing how today goes, how does it feel tomorrow?” Showalter said. “There’s so many things he’s doing for the first time today that he hasn’t done. We can simulate as much as we want to, but I want to know how he feels tomorrow when he comes in.

“I know the guys are having a little golf thing on the off-day [on Monday], a little competition, and Matt said, ‘I’d love to play, but I’m not taking any chances.’ You can tell there’s still some unknown. How’s he going to respond? Is he going to be able to catch six days out of seven with one day game? I don’t know. We’ll see. I’m hoping to come out of it here with an idea. I’m hoping he’ll have some back-to-back days here before we leave.

“I think I’ll get more feedback tomorrow than I will today. That’s my sneaking suspicion.”

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