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Live from Camden Yards: Orioles, Matusz welcome winless Yankees to town

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Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke Jones is the Ravens and Orioles beat reporter for WNST BaltimorePositive.com and is a PFWA member. His mind is consumed with useless sports knowledge, pro wrestler promos, and movie quotes, but he struggles to remember where he put his phone. Luke's favorite sports memories include being one of the thousands of kids who waited to get Cal Ripken's autograph after Orioles games in the summer of 1995, attending the Super Bowl XXXV victory parade with his father in the pouring rain, and watching the Terps advance to the Final Four at the Carrier Dome in 2002. Follow him on Twitter @BaltimoreLuke or email him at Luke@wnst.net.

BALTIMORE — As if the Orioles’ three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins wasn’t enough to whet your appetite for the start of the baseball season, the Yankees come to town having not won a game after being swept by the Rays in Tampa over the weekend.

Of course, that means Joe Girardi’s club isn’t in a jovial mood as left-hander Brian Matusz takes the hill for his 2012 debut. To say Matusz’s 2011 season — in which he was 1-9 with a 10.69 earned run average in 12 starts — was nightmarish would be a disservice to unpleasant dreams as the 25-year-old battled injury and ineffectiveness throughout the season.

However, a new training regiment in the offseason and a strong spring in which he pitched to a 3.65 ERA in 24 2/3 innings led to Matusz making the Baltimore rotation as the No. 4 starter. Showing velocity more in line with his first two seasons in Baltimore, Matusz consistently sat in the low 90s as he led the Orioles with 22 strikeouts and had just three walks.

“I’m proud of him. He’s done everything possible to get this opportunity,” manager Buck Showalter said. “Now comes the biggest step of all of them, and that’s pitching competitively at the highest level of baseball in the world against one of the best teams in the world. You can’t shield him from that competition.”

He’ll certainly be thrown to the wolves tonight against one of the most imposing lineups in baseball.

Showalter also provided injury updates on Japanese southpaw Tsuyoshi Wada and left-hander Zach Britton. Wada pithced six innings and threw 88 pitches in an extended spring training game on Monday and “looked good” as observers described to Showalter. Wada will make at least two more starts before the Orioles make a decision regarding his status and potential activation to the 25-man roster.

Britton will begin throwing in Sarasota on Thursday in what will be the first time he’s picked up a ball since undergoing platelet-rich plasma therapy in late March. Showalter was cautious when asked to offer a definitive timetable for his return to the big leagues and wouldn’t even rule out the possibility of Britton being optioned to Triple-A Norfolk depending on the state of the rotation.

“He’s got to jump through some hoops to get there,” Showalter said. “But, I’m hoping by the first part of May we’re getting some definitive idea about when [he’s back]. I think the next couple weeks will be key — provided this is where he goes when he’s ready.”

Based on those comments, it would be ambitious to expect Britton back before the middle of May, but that’s mostly speculation at this point in time.

Second baseman Brian Roberts was taking batting practice early on Monday as he continues to work his way back from concussion-like symptoms. There is still no timetable for a potential rehab assignment for the 34-year-old, who is on the 15-day disabled list.

Here are tonight’s lineups:

New York
SS Derek Jeter
RF Nick Swisher
2B Robinson Cano
DH Alex Rodriguez
1B Mark Teixeira
CF Curtis Granderson
LF Andruw Jones
C Russell Martin
3B Eduardo Nunez

SP Ivan Nova

Baltimore
LF Nolan Reimold
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
3B Mark Reynolds
DH Wilson Betemit
1B Chris Davis
2B Robert Andino

SP Brian Matusz

Follow WNST on Twitter for live updates from Oriole Park at Camden Yards and visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear Buck Showalter’s pre-game comments right HERE.

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