Matusz goes down; Britton Comes Up

Matusz goes down with side strain; Britton comes up.

INSIDE PITCH

The season opener was supposed to be about the positives surrounding the Orioles in the new year.

Instead, bad news was the talk of the Orioles, as promising lefty Brian Matusz was scratched from Saturday's start after his Friday bullpen session was cut short. Matusz was placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a strained rib-cage muscle.

Chris Tillman will make the start Saturday. Highly touted lefty Zach Britton will join the club and make his big-league debut manager Sunday, manager Buck Showalter said Friday night after the Orioles' 4-1 win over the Rays in the season opener.

Matusz, the club's No. 2 starter, was slated to have an MRI before Friday's first pitch after experiencing soreness in the middle of his back on his left side.

Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said Matusz is likely to miss three to six weeks, MASNsports.com reported.

The eventual decision was to go with Tillman, who was initially scheduled to start Sunday. The Baltimore Sun reported Brad Bergesen, currently in the bullpen, was not an option to make Saturday's start.

Britton was optioned to Class AAA Norfolk earlier this week despite having the best spring of any Orioles starter. The plan was for Britton to remain at Norfolk until at least late April, delaying the start of his big-league service, possibly keeping him under contractual control for another season down the line.

By promoting Britton to make Sunday's start, the clock immediately starts ticking toward arbitration and free agency.

NOTES, QUOTES

--RHP Jeremy Guthrie is called the club's de facto ace, but Friday he looked like a legitimate No. 1 hurler. Guthrie held the Rays scoreless in eight three-hit innings at Tropicana Field. The veteran walked one and struck out six on 94 pitches, 67 of which were strikes.

--RF Nick Markakis drove in the Orioles' first run of the year with a nice piece of hitting in the top of the third inning. The No. 2 hitter drove in SS J.J. Hardy with a line drive into left-center field. He added another RBI with a sacrifice fly to cap a three-run fifth inning. For all the talk about fewer RBI opportunities as a No. 2 hitter, Markakis took advantage of his chances Friday.

--DH Vladimir Guerrero got a hit in his first Orioles at-bat, lining a David Price offering into center field. The free-swinger led off the inning in all four of his plate appearances, flying out in the fourth, grounding out in the sixth and popping out in the ninth.

--RHP Jim Johnson was greeted rudely by Rays 2B Ben Zobrist, who drilled his first offering into the right field seats. Johnson came on in the ninth inning for RHP Jeremy Guthrie, who held Tampa Bay scoreless over eight masterful innings. Johnson settled in, though, striking out Johnny Damon and Evan Longoria before getting Manny Ramirez to ground out.

--2B Brian Roberts looked healthy in a 1-for-3 performance, highlighted by a two-run triple in the fifth inning. Roberts plated C Matt Wieters and Hardy with a shot to the left-center field gap and later scored on a Markakis sacrifice fly. Roberts had been slowed this spring by a sore back.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5 -- Hits for the Orioles in the season opener at Tampa Bay. Baltimore made the most of them, recording a 4-1 win.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I was hoping it was an April Fool's joke." -- Orioles president Andy MacPhail, to the Baltimore Sun, on the injury that forced LHP Brian Matusz onto the disabled list.

ROSTER REPORT

MEDICAL WATCH:

--RHP Brad Bergesen (bruised right forearm) was hurt March 25. X-rays were negative, and he made the Opening Day roster.

--LHP Brian Matusz (strained left intercostal muscle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 24. He was scheduled to have an MRI exam April 1.

--RHP Justin Duchscherer (sore left hip) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He might be able to join the rotation in mid-April. The hip ailment limited him to five starts for Oakland last year.

ROTATION:

RHP Jeremy Guthrie

RHP Chris Tillman

LHP Zach Britton

RHP Jake Arrieta

RHP Brad Bergesen

BULLPEN:

RHP Kevin Gregg (closer)

RHP Koji Uehara

RHP Jim Johnson

LHP Mike Gonzalez

RHP Jeremy Accardo

RHP Jason Berken

RHP Josh Rupe

CATCHERS:

Matt Wieters

Jake Fox

INFIELDERS:

1B Derrek Lee

2B Brian Roberts

SS J.J. Hardy

3B Mark Reynolds

INF Cesar Izturis

INF Robert Andino

OUTFIELDERS:

LF Luke Scott

CF Adam Jones

RF Nick Markakis

DH Vladimir Guerrero

OF Felix Pie


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