SARASOTA, Fla. -- After a tough 2011 season, Brian Matusz will make his Grapefruit League debut at Ed Smith Stadium on Monday, when the Orioles conclude a split-squad day by hosting the Pirates in a 7:05 p.m. ET game airing on MLB.TV.
Matusz, who has never faced the Pirates, is excited for the opportunity, and he is hoping to face former high school teammate Nick Evans, who is a non-roster invitee in Pittsburgh's camp.
Prior to facing the Pirates, the Orioles will hand the ball to Alfredo Simon when they play the Rays in a 1:05 p.m. contest in Port Charlotte. According to manager Buck Showalter, "about 80 percent" of the decision of who will pitch first had to do simply with someone just needing to be first, although part of that thought process also had to do with the organization wanting to make things relatively smooth for Matusz, who is coming off a tough 2011 season.
Matusz wasn't over-analyzing the decision either.
"It's just my day to throw, that's about it," said Matusz. "I'm thrilled to have the opportunity, be the guy to start the first game at home. [The] first day of spring is always special to everyone, fans here in Sarasota, fans back in Baltimore and the whole club and team, so I'm fired up about it."
Starting pitchers are expected to pitch two innings in their first turn through the rotation.
Tommy Hunter and Dana Eveland are slated to pitch in Tuesday's 1:35 p.m. game vs. the Red Sox in Fort Myers, Wei-Yin Chen and Chris Tillman will face the Twins at 1:05 p.m. on March 7, Jason Hammel and Armando Galarraga will pitch vs. the Braves at 1:05 p.m. on March 8, and Jake Arrieta gets the call vs. the Rays at 1:05 p.m. vs. the Rays.
The O's will also play a pair of intrasquad games, which are not open to the public, at Ed Smith Stadium this Friday and Saturday.
Teammates impressed with Bundy's repertoire
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Several minutes before top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy was set to throw his first batting practice, Orioles first baseman Chris Davis crouched down with his bat and gestured to the 19-year-old Bundy. "This is the Major League strike zone," Davis joked, fully bent at the knees as he demonstrated the few inches Bundy should be working under.
But if Bundy has shown anything in his first Major League camp, it's that he doesn't scare easily. Bundy, the Orioles' first-round pick in last year's Draft, threw behind a protective screen to Davis, Robert Andino, Wilson Betemit and Endy Chavez on Wednesday afternoon, leaving the quartet of big leaguers collectively impressed.
"He has a heavy fastball," Betemit said of Bundy. "He was really, really good. That fastball is Major League."
Upon being told Bundy had five pitches, Betemit, who mostly saw fastballs and changeups, joked that he "didn't want to see all five."
"He's calm, cool and collected," catcher Caleb Joseph said of Bundy. "He's got some zip. What really impresses me is his feel for his offspeed pitches -- especially being a big power guy, usually those guys will just not have any feel, they'll just try to throw it as hard as they can or make it move the most. But he's got tremendous feel for his changeup, and all of his pitches have ridiculously tight spin."
Davis, who hit a ball out on his final swing, was blown away by Bundy's extensive repertoire, while Andino used some colorful language to pay the young right-hander a high compliment. Bundy, who has done his best to keep his head down as the youngest player in camp, said he's enjoying himself despite the stoic look.
Asked if he was having fun Bundy said: "Definitely. [I] probably don't look like it, but I never do. I enjoy every minute of it. It's a privilege to be here, and I'm glad I can be here."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.