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Matusz had some great moments in Baltimore, but not enough

Matusz had some great moments in Baltimore, but not enough

It was a long, strange trip for Brian Matusz and the Orioles. In the spring of 2009, manager Dave Trembley was excited because, in his words, “The cavalry is coming.” 

After a long spell of losing seasons and an even longer minor league career, the Orioles and Trembley hoped to reap the benefits of a group of talented minor league pitchers. 

More than seven years later, only Chris Tillman remains from that group. 

While Matusz and Tillman stayed with the team the longest, Jake Arrieta, Brad Bergesen, Jason Berken and David Hernandez all had their shots. 

Strangely, Trembley probably got to see Matusz at his hottest. 

After 19 minor league starts in 2009, the fourth overall pick in the 2008 draft was rushed to the Orioles and teased Trembley with a 5-2 record and 4.63 ERA.

By June of the following season, Trembley was gone and Matusz was back to teasing. When Buck Showalter arrived two months later, he teased the new manager, too. 

Matusz went 7-1 under Showalter, and then 2011 happened.

A 1-9 record with a horrifying 10.69 ERA, and back to the minors.

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After another chance in 2012, Matusz was sent to Norfolk by midseason and when Troy Patton was injured in a freak accident, he hurriedly re-invented himself as a situational left-hander, and nearly four years later, that’s where he stands—against his will.

It was ridiculously early to typecast Matusz as a situational lefty at age 25, but the Orioles were left with no choice. 

Matusz hasn’t started a major league game since July 1, 2012, and that gnawed at him. He thought he would be traded in March 2015, but that never happened, and while he played the good soldier, he looked forward to free agency this fall so he could show another team that he was a legitimate major league starter. 

Ironically, the team that traded for him, the Atlanta Braves, employ Trembley as their minor league guru, but he won’t be stopping there. 

The Braves didn’t want Matusz to join their cadre of ex-Orioles: Nick Markakis, Bud Norris, Jim Johnson and Kelly Johnson. They really wanted the Orioles’ pick in the Competitive Balance round, the 76th overall, and they’d gladly eat the nearly $3 million that was remaining on Matusz’s contract. 

The Orioles picked up two decent, but not show stopping prospects to add to a farm system badly in need of more arms. 

Most important, they rid themselves of Matusz, who manager Buck Showalter didn’t want to use. Matusz had to start his season on the disabled list, and stayed longer on a rehab assignment than expected because he didn’t perform well in Bowie. 

He gave up eight runs on 11 hits and walked seven in six innings, and the Orioles simply couldn’t go with him any longer. 

Almost immediately after the trade, the Braves designated Matusz for assignment, and once he clears waivers, will search for a team that will allow him an opportunity to start. 

For the Orioles, Matusz was a disappointment. Much more is expected from the fourth overall draft choice, but Showalter found ways to use him. 

He was terrific against David Ortiz, who was 4-for-29 with 13 strikeouts, and Nick Swisher had just one hit in 22 at-bats. He was also great against Brett Gardner and Josh Hamilton (a combined 3-for-33). 

But, in the end there weren’t enough hitters Matusz was successful against, and his time in Baltimore ends. 

He leaves behind many friends through his work with children’s charities, and many who will be rooting for a fresh start as a starter.

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Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

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USA Today Sports

Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

SARASOTA, Fla. -- A person familiar with the negotiations says pitcher Chris Tillman and the Baltimore Orioles have agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract.

The deal includes performance bonuses, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the deal had not yet been announced.

Tillman was 1-7 with a 7.84 ERA in 19 starts and five relief appearances last year. He would be the second starter added by the Orioles in the past week after right-hander Andrew Cashner.

Tillman likely would join right-handers Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and Cashner in the rotation.

The 29-year-old right-hander lives in Sarasota and had been working out at the Orioles' facility before spring training. Manager Buck Showalter watched Tillman throw and was impressed.

Tillman began last season on the disabled list with right shoulder stiffness.

"Better than he did last year at this time. I think he's got the chance to pitch well for somebody this year," Showalter said. "A lot of the challenges he had last year -- this time last year -- aren't there. Somebody's going to reap the benefits."

Tillman's is 73-55 with a 4.43 ERA in nine major league seasons, all with the Orioles. He won 16 games in both 2013 and 2016.

"He's a guy when he's healthy you can bank on him giving you 200 innings and keeping his ERA between a 3 and a 4," Gausman said. "That in the AL East is always going to be very valuable."

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Orioles Spring Training Schedule 2018

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USA Today Sports Images

Orioles Spring Training Schedule 2018

Live baseball is close to gracing our television screens again. The Orioles haven't had the most active offseason, to put it mildly. Fans are still wondering who will make up more than half the spots in this year's rotation, and Manny Machado's upcoming free agency is looming over every decision the organization makes.

Still, it's exciting to be able to follow the team again. Not every game is televised, so get ready to constantly refresh your favorite beat writer's Twitter account for all your updates.

Even without getting to watch the games, it'll be comforting to once again check box scores in the morning to see if Jonathan Schoop is building on his breakout season, or if top-prospect Austin Hays is all he's cracked up to be (spoiler: he is).

This year's spring training will be especially interesting, considering how many big-name players will be signing in the next few weeks. The O's haven't yet made a big splash this offseason, but with the sheer volume of capable players still on the market, you have to wonder if they'll try to sign some impact players at bargain values.

Typically, the excitement of adding a new piece to the lineup or rotation has to be reignited after a long winter off, but this season, those additions will be taking place while camp is already underway.

It's going to be a hectic few weeks as teams prepare for thier seasons, so bookmark this page to check on on the Orioles spring training schedule over the next few weeks as the team finally takes the field in 2018.

Orioles 2018 Spring Training Schedule

Friday, Feb. 23 (SS) - Rays at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Saturday, Feb. 24 (SS) - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Feb. 24 (SS) - Twins at Orioles, 6:05 pm
Sunday, Feb. 25 - Orioles at Red Sox, 1:05 pm 
Monday, Feb. 26 - Tigers at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Feb. 27 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Feb. 28 - Cardinals at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 1 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 2 - Pirates at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 3 (SS) - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 - Red Sox at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Tuesday, Mar. 6 - Orioles at Twins, 1:05 pm 
Wednesday, Mar. 7 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 8 - Blue Jays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 9 - Orioles at Blue Jays, 1:07 pm
Saturday, Mar. 10 (SS) - Pirates at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 11 (SS) - Orioles at Red Sox, 1:05 pm 
Sunday, Mar. 11 (SS) - Phillies at Orioles, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Mar. 12 - Orioles at Pirates, 1:05 pm 
Tuesday, Mar. 13 - Orioles at Twins, 1:05 pm 
Wednesday, Mar. 14 - Yankees at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 15 - Orioles at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 16 - Orioles at Mets, 1:10 pm 
Saturday, Mar. 17 (SS) - Blue Jays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 18 - Mets at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Monday, Mar. 19 - Orioles at Tigers, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 20 - Rays at Orioles, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Wednesday, Mar. 21 - Orioles at Yankees, 6:35 pm 
Thursday, Mar. 22 - Red Sox at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Friday, Mar. 23 (SS) - Rays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 24 - Twins at Orioles, 6:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 25 - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm 
Monday, Mar. 27 (in Norfolk, VA) - Orioles at Tides (AAA), 3:05 pm