Brian Matusz throws six scoreless at Double-A Bowie

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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.

Tigers sign Francisco Liriano

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Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reports that the Tigers have signed Francisco Liriano to a one-year, $4 million contract.

Liriano split time between the Blue Jays and Astros last year, putting up a 5.66 ERA in 38 games, 18 of which were starts, striking out 85 and walking 53 in 97 innings. He pitched two-thirds on an inning in the World Series, but overall it was a pretty substandard season. But hey, those innings ain’t gonna eat themselves, and Liriano will eat some in Detroit.

Not to speak ill of him: he is almost certainly the second best Francisco Li- player in the division.