Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz took a big step toward returning to a major league mound on Saturday evening at the Double-A level.
According to Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com, the promising young southpaw hurled six scoreless innings for Double-A Bowie, surrendering just three hits and one walk in an impressive rehab start.
The Orioles will either ask Matusz to A.) make one more rehab appearance to drive up his pitch count or B.) they’ll activate him late next week and throw him right into the fire. He made just 70 total throws on Saturday for Bowie, so it’s possible Baltimore will play it safe and lean toward option A.
Matusz, 24, opened the season on the disabled list and has not yet made a start in the 2011 season. He went 7-3 with a 3.63 ERA and 1.19 WHIP over his final 14 starts of 2010 and faces lofty long-term expectations.
The O’s will either move Brad Bergesen to the bullpen or demote Chris Tillman to clear a rotation spot.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.