Simon and Matusz to start exhibition openers

SARASOTA, Fla. - Alfredo Simon and Brian Matusz will start the split-squad exhibition openers on March 5. Simon will face the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte and Matusz will face the Pittsburgh Pirates at Ed Smith Stadium.

"Somebody's got to be first," manager Buck Showalter said. "That's probably 80 percent of it."

Also, pitching coach Rick Adair clarified left-hander Zach Britton's throwing schedule. Britton will throw bullpen sessions on Friday and Monday.

Britton threw off flat ground again today - 25 throws each from 60, 90 and 120 feet. He'll throw 20-25 pitches in the bullpen on Friday.

Jim Johnson mixed in his changeup during today's 25-pitch bullpen session. He also participated in pitchers fielding practice. He'll return to the mound on Friday and Monday.

Showalter said we shouldn't expect to see Nick Markakis in an exhibition game during the first week of March. We shouldn't start to look for Markakis before March 10. Nothing has changed about Markakis' schedule.

More to come.

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