Matusz (back) feeling better, nearing return

O's lefty reliever has been limited to two Spring Training appearances

Matusz (back) feeling better, nearing return

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles reliever Brian Matusz threw a side session on Friday, and the plan is for him to return to game action on Sunday.

"We had the cortisone shot done on Sunday. Today's Friday, so it's what, five days? We'll play catch today and go from there," said Matusz, who has been slowed by a lower back injury but said he felt great Friday morning.

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Matusz suffered the injury during his first spring appearance. He returned last Sunday, but something still wasn't quite right.

"I guess it was more of an uncomfortable feeling, and I just felt like at that time the cortisone shot was the best route to go in order to be most useful to help this team," he said. "We felt like then was the right time to do it. And now we're going to take it day by day and go from there."

Manager Buck Showalter has said that it would be tough for Matusz -- initially projected to be part of the Opening Day bullpen -- to break camp with the team given how little he's pitching in games. Matusz wasn't ready to go there yet on Friday, though.

"That's something that [pitching coach] Dave [Wallace], [bullpen coach] Dom [Chiti], [head trainer] Richie [Bancells] and myself are going to talk about later this morning," he said.

Without Matusz, the O's have just one lefty (T.J. McFarland) outside of closer Zach Britton. The club signed lefty Zach Phillips this week as an option to fill in for Matusz.

Worth noting

• With a week left in camp, Showalter is getting closer to making some final roster decisions. He's also ready to make out an Opening Day lineup ... sort of.

"I've got one I put out there yesterday if we were starting today, but we don't have to start today," Showalter said prior to Friday's 11-10 win against the Yankees. "So far, so good. I don't want to do anything to jinx our health. I'd have signed up for it in blood coming into camp. I've got an idea, but one step at a time."

• Righty Chaz Roe is slated to return to the team on Saturday. Roe left on Thursday to travel home for the birth of his second daughter.

Pedro Alvarez, who started at first base Friday, will play third base in some spring games, Showalter said.

Matt Wieters took 11 at-bats in a Minor League game on Friday, and Showalter said he'd have a better idea of when Wieters will return to catching after he comes in on Saturday.

Kevin Gausman received treatment on his right shoulder on Friday, but he did not throw. Gausman has been resting since receiving a cortisone injection on Sunday.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.