If anyone with the Orioles needs a fresh start, it's left-hander Brian Matusz.
Matusz left spring training as the No. 2 starter. He ended the season with one victory.
I don't know anyone who saw it coming.
I predicted that Matusz would become the staff ace after winning his last six decisions in 2010 and posting a 1.57 ERA over his final eight starts. Maybe I was just a year or two off.
Matusz was 1-9 with a 10.69 ERA in 12 starts this season. He went on the disabled list in early April with a strained intercostal muscle.
Though it wasn't his intention, he introduced many of us to the term "intercostal muscle." Meanwhile, I was still getting used to "oblique."
Apparently, they're not the same thing.
Conditioning will remain a priority for Matusz over the fall and winter.
"I'm going to be working out in Irvine with Brady Anderson, and I'm heading out there right away," he said. "I've been on his workout program now for about 100 days and I'm not going to stop. I'm going to keep getting bigger and stronger. I'm not sure about the throwing yet, exactly what I'm going to do. I know I'm going to start throwing a little earlier this year and probably throw some more bullpen sessions.
"I'm going to have myself right. I haven't exactly mapped out what I'm going to do in terms of throwing, long toss and bullpen sessions, but I'm going to make sure I get my rest and recover when I need to, but also make sure I get enough work in to where I'm right."
Anderson also worked with Nolan Reimold and Mark Reynolds last winter. Matusz has become his latest project.
"It's all power," Matusz said. "Everything we do is all squat-based power-type movements, strengthening muscles that I specifically use as a pitcher. And running-wise, conditioning myself to where I'm doing a lot of sprints, which generate power as well. That's the type of routine I've been on and that's what I'm going to keep doing. I'll do every little bit that I need to in order to make sure I'm in the best shape and that my mechanics are where they need to be."
Matusz also needed to build up his confidence level this summer.
"This offseason will be a nice time for me to be able to relax my brain to where I can calm down and gather myself, but it also will be a time for working real hard to get myself ready to go by spring training," he said.
Matusz was tutored by three pitching coaches this year - Mark Connor, Rick Adair and Triple-A Norfolk's Mike Griffin. He never seemed to click with Connor and had to get accustomed to Adair.
"Rick and I, we've both been through a lot this year," he said. "New players, new coaches and all that unfamiliarity. It's tough. But Rick and I have been working real hard together over the last month or so and it's been good, and I'll continue doing the things that we've been working on. And also just get myself to stop thinking so much and kind of get that break where I can allow it to happen, rather than make it happen."
He'd like to make the memory of the 2011 season fade away. Since that's not likely to happen, he'll use it as a motivator.
"I'm not going to forget this feeling. That's for sure," he said. "Results-wise and stats-wise, of course I don't want to think about that ever again, but I'm not going to forget this feeling."
I haven't forgotten about president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail. I just decided to wait until the end of this entry to bring up his name.
As expected, nothing happened yesterday beyond his meeting with owner Peter Angelos. No official word from the Orioles on whether MacPhail will remain in the organization - perhaps as a consultant - or leave it. We could know more today.