Matusz set to return following suspension

Lefty glad O's bullpen performed well while he was out

Matusz set to return following suspension

BALTIMORE -- Orioles reliever Brian Matusz chose his words carefully and sometimes couldn't come up with any at all on Saturday when discussing his eight-game suspension.

• Cast your Esurance All-Star ballot for #ASGWorthy Orioles players

Matusz's suspension, which he started serving on June 5, stems from an incident on May 23, when he was ejected from a game against the Marlins due to a foreign substance on his arm. Matusz said that he was using rosin on his arm for a better grip. On May 21, Will Smith of the Padres was ejected under the same circumstances.

Both pitchers appealed the suspensions: Smith's was lowered to six games, while Matusz was stuck with eight.

Matusz's thoughts?

"I'm not going to say what I really want to say, but no, Will Smith, he lucked out, he got the better end of the deal," Matusz said.

Smith ejected in the 7th

Neither Matusz nor Orioles manager Buck Showalter received an explanation about why Matusz didn't have his suspension reduced.

Luckily for the Orioles, their bullpen put together one of its best stretches of the season while giving up just four runs in 25 2/3 innings in the first seven games during Matusz's suspension.

"It's a lot better feeling being in Florida and watching the games and seeing that, that we're winning ballgames and that we're playing well," Matusz said. "It's great to see that and great to win ballgames, especially with the team being punished by only having 24 players with this incident."

Matusz is eligible to return on Sunday, and Showalter made it sound like the lefty would be the first one to be used out of the 'pen. During his suspension, Matusz watched the O's from Sarasota, Fla., where he threw a pair of two-inning outings at extended spring camp.

"It wasn't fun sitting back at night watching games on TV," Matusz said. "It was a different aspect watching the games from the MLB package or whatnot, but yeah, it flew by."

With temperatures rising in Baltimore, multiple pitchers have commented on how it's been tough to get a good grip on the ball, including Ubaldo Jimenez following Friday night's start.

Matusz couldn't really offer up a solution for how he would grip the ball going forward.

"I just, I guess will hold onto the ball tighter, I don't know," he said. "Obviously, I've just got to find a way ... don't know how to answer."

Connor Smolensky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.