Brian Matusz to make 2011 debut Wednesday vs. Mariners

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From Baltimore Sun beat writer Jeff Zrebiec comes word that left-handed starter Brian Matusz has joined up with the Orioles and is likely to be activated for his 2011 regular season debut on Wednesday afternoon against the Mariners.

Matusz allowed just one run over five-plus innings Friday in his final rehab start at Triple-A Norfolk. He made three rehab appearances in all, posting a sparkling 1.20 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and 10/4 K/BB ratio across 15 total minor league frames.

The 24-year-old southpaw has been on the disabled list since the start of the season with a badly strained left intercostal muscle.

“It’s been a long tough road,” Matusz said Saturday while unpacking his things. “The DL hasn’t been fun. If everything feels good, and it should feel good, I’m lined up to pitch Wednesday. That’s the plan. I’m really excited. Right now I’m still focusing on getting ready for Wednesday. I feel good today. I don’t feel as sore this time around as I did after the start in Bowie. There are a lot of emotions going on right now. It was a long trip cross-country. I’m just happy to be here in the clubhouse. I’m excited to get back in my old routine.”

Matusz registered a 7-3 record, a 3.63 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP over his final 14 starts of the 2010 season. He should be able to throw around 100 pitches in his debut Wednesday against light-hitting Seattle.

Tigers release Francisco Rodriguez

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Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.

The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.

The Red Sox sign Jhonny Peralta

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The Red Sox have signed third baseman Jhonny Peralta to a minor-league deal. He’ll report to Pawtucket.

Peralta, 35, hit a paltry .204/.259/.204 in 58 plate appearances for the Cardinals this year. But with Pablo Sandoval on the disabled list — and ineffective when he hasn’t been — the Sox could use some infield depth.

This is the second former Tiger that former Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski has picked up today, after signing Doug Fister. No word if he’s kicking the tires on Andy Dirks or Brennan Boesch.