Brian Matusz was being counted on to anchor a young Orioles rotation after throwing 176 innings with a 4.30 ERA as a rookie last year, but instead he missed the first two months of the season with a strained intercostal muscle and hasn’t looked very impressive since coming off the disabled list.
Matusz failed to make it out of the second inning yesterday and afterward manager Buck Showalter had some pretty harsh criticism for the 24-year-old left-hander:
He had a good statistical return but he just wasn’t able to defend himself today–running game and stuff-wise. He’s telling us he feels fine. Just not a whole lot coming out right now.
Showalter was especially peeved about Matusz allowing four stolen bases to Rays runners:
He keeps telling us he can read them. It’s been a challenge for him. Maybe we’ll be able to get his attention a little bit more.
Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun speculates that “get his attention a little more” could involve bumping Matusz from the rotation, but it seems likely that he’ll get at least another start or two before that happens.
Rays manager Joe Maddon believes the Rays were beating up on an injured pitcher, saying: “I think there may be something not quite right with Matusz. I’m certain he’s not feeling 100 percent.”
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.