CHICAGO -- Count Orioles pitching coach Rick Adair among those who believe left-handed pitcher Brian Matusz has made significant strides despite the 25-year-old's stats, which include an 0-2 mark with a 8.38 ERA in his first two starts.
Asked if he was worried about how the start to this season might affect Matusz -- who went 1-9 with a 10.69 ERA last year -- Adair said, "No, not at all."
Matusz is coming off a solid spring campaign that earned him a spot in the Orioles' rotation and Adair said one of the biggest changes for the lefty -- who is in noticeably better shape -- is learning to trust his physical ability.
"He's obviously been through a lot of changes, he's stronger. He's got better stuff, there's no doubt about any of that," Adair said of Matusz, who has gained back the velocity on his fastball that was missing for all of 2011. "And with the changes that he's made, there's also still some things to overcome because of old habits. How his body worked last year when he was weaker, he still kind of gets in those moments.
"And he doesn't understand that he doesn't have to be as [fine]. He doesn't have to try to throw as hard or make perfect pitches. He needs to trust what he's doing with less effort."
Matusz, a former first-round pick, was highly critical of Sunday's 5 2/3 innings in Toronto as he struggled with fastball location. So far this season, he has allowed nine earned runs on 13 hits and eight walks over 9 2/3 innings.
"This is so frustrating, you know," Matusz said following Sunday's loss, which ran his career-high losing streak to 11, the longest active stretch in the Majors. "I know what went on last year, I know it was a horrible year and so far I'm off to a horrible start, at 0-2. And it's building up. And it's frustrating, and it's flat-out not getting the job done."
Matusz will get another chance to turn things around in his next start Friday in Anaheim, when the Orioles open a weekend series against the Angels.
"I'm not concerned about him at all," Adair said. "The results haven't been good, but he's made a lot of good pitches. He's made mistakes at the wrong time obviously. He's gotten himself in trouble with walks in the zone. But he's gaining understanding of what causes all that. And he's making constant adjustments. And I feel real good about where he is. I really do."
O'Day provides O's bullpen with versatility
CHICAGO -- Some of the biggest outs in Monday's 3-2 Orioles' win came from reliever Darren O'Day, who tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings following starter Wei-Yin Chen, stranding a pair of inherited runners along the way.
O'Day -- who entered one out into the sixth inning with runners on the corners -- kept the White Sox at bay, getting a popup and making a heads-up throw to nab Alex Rios on an attempt to steal second to strand the potential tying run at third. The 29-year-old O'Day also pitched out of a two-out double in the seventh, getting Brent Morel to strike out to keep the Orioles' one-run lead intact.
"Even compared to Spring Training, my hip feels much better," said O'Day, who is about a year removed from surgery to repair a partially torn labrum on his left hip. "[I'm] locating my pitches again, so as long as I can do that I should be able to get outs."
With three consecutive scoreless outings under his belt, O'Day -- who has a 1.80 season ERA -- is finally fully recovered from the surgery, which he tried to come back from in just two months. Prior to the injury, O'Day had a 2.02 ERA in parts of three seasons with Texas, recording 104 strikeouts and 33 walks in 125 innings. His return was ugly -- eight earned runs, including six homers over 9 1/3 innings, and a second disabled list trip. The Orioles plucked O'Day off the waiver wire from Texas and the self-taught sidearmer was one of the final roster decisions this spring.
"We did some homework on the physical stuff and you never know ... but we felt like he had gotten a lot of it behind him," manager Buck Showalter said. "And we all know what Darren's capable of when he's healthy.
"He does some things that a lot of guys from that arm angle don't do to left-handers, and really can't do. But he can, and he's a real smart guy, obviously. He knows that when you got right-left-left, the ability keep that, the left-hander, from doing major damage at that arm angle is big for a manager."
"I do pride myself on that," said O'Day, whose only critique in Monday's outing was allowing Alejandro De Aza a double. "They aren't going to put me in against five lefties in a row, but if there's some lefties in there I can get them out."
O'Day is part of an Orioles' relief corps that has been impressive to start the season, particularly on the first half of the road trip. The Orioles' bullpen entered Tuesday with a 2.20 ERA, having allowed just four earned runs over 16 1/3 innings in the five games prior.
"I like the way they are handling it," O'Day said of the bullpen usage. "It's not the same guy every night. In a long season we are not going to be able to pitch two, three guys late in the game, everybody's got to be able to do it. So, everybody's getting their chances, everybody's stepping up, so that gives the next guy confidence."
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.