Matusz endorses Kranitz's return

Today's lone reference to the coaching staff, barring an unexpected announcement, comes via left-hander Brian Matusz, who strongly endorses the return of pitching coach Rick Kranitz.

You'll keep hearing names attached to various positions on the staff. By my conservative estimation, the total will rise to 4,000 before the Orioles issue their press release.

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Each day, another friend of Buck Showalter or an instructor at some level with some team will become a rumored candidate. It will be blogged and tweeted.

It isn't a party until someone drops a name.

The one person who matters is the one who's hired.

It's worth noting that names will come up in warehouse meetings, and they might be leaked to someone in the media. But they also could be dismissed after about 15 seconds of discussion.

Anyway, going back to Matusz, I asked him earlier this week about the possibility of Kranitz moving to another organization. One scenario has Kranitz reuniting with Joe Girardi in New York.

"I've had a great relationship with Kranny all the way through," Matusz said. "During this last season, I went through some struggles where I was really lost in my mechanics and I couldn't figure it out. We worked hard in the bullpen sessions and he helped me make some mechanical adjustments, like staying taller and driving the ball down in the zone. We made some corrections here and there with my pitches.

"I love working with Kranny. We have a great relationship. We'll always be talking, getting scouting reports on hitters, figuring things out.

"I'd love for Rick to come back. We work so well together. I hope it works out that way. But that's part of the business. You never know how it's going to work. I just hope we have an opportunity to work together again."

Matusz went 6-0 with a 1.57 ERA over his final eight starts and posted a 2.18 ERA in 11 starts after Showalter arrived.

Was Showalter the key? Was it Kranitz? Was it his entrance music?

Don't scoff.

Matusz switched for a third time this summer, using the song "Secrets" from clubhouse attendant Blake Cain's band Loose Cannon Trio during his last six or seven home starts.

Matusz opened the season with Johnny Cash's "God's Gonna Cut You Down" and later took the mound to Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Child," but he didn't get the desired results.

"Blake asked if I wanted to use one of his songs," Matusz recalled. "I said, 'I'd love to. I'm not winning with the song I'm using right now.' I changed it and I had good success with the new song."

It became a running joke between Matusz and Jeremy Guthrie.

"It's funny," Matusz said. "It was good to switch it up."

Here's a clearer version of the song, also courtesy of YouTube.

Going back to the spring training schedule I posted yesterday, the Orioles will announce at a later date when fans can purchase tickets for the games in Sarasota.

Ed Smith Stadium continues to undergo an extensive face-lift. The enhancements include the addition of a two-story concourse with shaded views of the playing field; a new stucco façade with tile accents; refurbished stadium seats directly from Camden Yards; additional private suites and party facilities; and a state-of-the-art audio/video system and video board.

Improvements to the player facilities include new dugouts and bullpens; a new half field with AstroTurf; refurbished batting cages; and a practice field with the same dimensions as Camden Yards.

All of these upgrades are expected to be finalized in time for next spring's games.

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