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.

Cubs sign Drew Smyly to a two-year, $10 million contract

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The Cubs announced on Tuesday evening that the club signed pitcher Drew Smyly to a two-year contract. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports the contract is for $10 million total and allows Smyly to earn another $7 million with performance bonuses. Smyly was non-tendered by the Mariners at the beginning of the month and became a free agent.

Smyly, 28, underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery in late June. He’s expected to miss, at minimum, the first half of the 2018 season. The Cubs are hoping he can contribute to a playoff push in the latter half of the season as well as in 2019.

Smyly didn’t pitch at all in 2017. When he was healthy the season prior, he made 30 starts for the Rays and put up a 4.88 ERA and a 167/49 K/BB ratio in 175 1/3 innings.