Struggling left-hander Brian Matusz acknowledged Wednesday that he wasn't "mentally prepared" for the start of the season and that he lost confidence in himself after being asked to make mechanical changes that he wasn't comfortable making.

"Obviously, coming in not prepared is pretty clear to everyone," Matusz said in a phone interview a day after he allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits and three walks in Triple-A Norfolk's loss to Toledo. "It wasn't necessarily that I wasn't physically prepared, but I wasn't mentally prepared. I was working with two pitching coaches that I didn't know, and they wanted to change things I've done for my whole life.

"Rick Adair and Mark Connor had great intentions of helping us young guys get better. That was the goal, that was the plan. Mentally, I wasn't prepared to make that happen. Right now, I'm trying to find myself, getting back to what has made me successful through my entire life."

Matusz, the 24-year-old who was supposed to pitch near the top of the Orioles' rotation for years to come, is 0-3 with a 4.83 ERA in six starts for the Tides, having allowed 35 hits and 14 walks in 31 2/3 innings. But of bigger concern is that scouts who have watched Matusz since his demotion have indicated his stuff isn't any better than it was earlier this season when he was getting knocked around in the big leagues.

Relying on a fastball that has been in the mid-to-high 80s almost all season and spotty command, Matusz had an 8.77 ERA in six big league starts when he was demoted June 30.

Those numbers have led to questions about how hard Matusz worked this offseason — team officials haven't publicly questioned the pitcher, but some in the organization are clearly disenchanted by his offseason preparation — and speculation that he is injured. Matusz missed two months with a strained left intercostal muscle, and he also had an uneven spring after having a wart removed and getting drilled in the left arm by a comebacker.

Matusz, however, said he felt good coming into the spring, and his conditioning problems started when he suffered the intercostal strain and was shut down from physical activities. After working out at Athletes Performance the past two offseasons, Matusz did say that he has decided to spend this coming offseason training with former Oriole and noted fitness buff Brady Anderson, and he admitted he needs to do a better job of getting stronger and maintaining his weight.