Showalter speaks after 4-1 loss

SARASOTA, Fla. - Manager Buck Showalter addressed two of the most important postgame topics today: Pitcher Brian Matusz and right fielder Nick Markakis.

Showalter noted that Matusz wasn't "as crisp as he was in the two previous outings."

"Obviously, the wind helped him a little bit on the one ball, so there's two sides of that," Showalter said.

Showalter was impressed with the way Matusz handled adversity today, including the seven hits he allowed in five innings and a ball that hit the backstop after he lost his footing on the mound while facing Lou Montanez in the first inning.

"That's a given that's going to happen and I think it was good to see him after the stumble he had on the mound. That was good to get back, regain his delivery. It's tough," Showalter said.

"I'm happy with him, with his arm, and there's a lot of things going well for him right now. He gave us a chance to win, regardless of the conditions on the one ball. We could have done maybe a couple things better behind him defensively, too. I'm happy where he is."

Is Matusz ready to help the Orioles - a subtle attempt to find out whether he's going to make the team?

"We'll see," Showalter replied, not taking the bait. "We've got 15 more games down here."

Showalter says he hasn't made final decisions on the rotation.

"Of course not," he said. "I don't think anybody ... very few of our guys have enough of a track record to go right through it to be making a call when you have the type of competition we have right now. I'm not going to go there. It wouldn't be very smart at all.

"I think (Matusz) knows he's in the competition, I think he knew it when the season ended last year, regardless of what we've done (this winter.) I'm not going to sit there and go on about what went on before. I know what's happened since the season ended and I'm happy he's getting a return for it in spring training in Sarasota right now, so we'll see if he can get through spring and we still think that he's going to make a contribution to our club this year from the get-go.

"He knows what's going on. They're not dumb. They see the numbers and they see what's going on. He's one of the reasons why ... I'd like to think that what went on last year and what went on this offseason is something that he'll reach back for the rest of his career, but it's up to him. So far, so good."

Showalter seemed happy with Markakis' effort in right field today.

"I talked to Nicky a little bit," he said. "Typical great cutoff throw right on the button. He feels good and I think each day he gets out there he'll get a little ... I don't necessarily see him as tentative. We don't see anything that's alarming. And keep in mind like I told him when he came out, he has 15 more games. I don't want him to start doing something he's not ready for. But so far, it's like Richie (Bancells) said, we don't have any caution with him. Just kind of trust him.

"I'd rather him be a little cautious. I just want him to keep in mind where the finish line is. We hold out hope and we think he's going to be able to start the season, but if he needs another week, he needs another week. He's worth waiting on."

Tommy Hunter makes his Grapefruit League debut Wednesday against the Blue Jays. Armando Galarraga, Matt Lindstrom, Luis Ayala, Oscar Villarreal and Pat Neshek also are available to pitch.

Kyle Drabek starts for the Blue Jays.

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