Orioles manager Buck Showalter confirmed today that injured starter Brian Matusz won't be ready to return to the big league rotation until mid-May at the earliest.

Matusz, who hasn't pitched this year because of a strained left intercostal muscle, will head back to the team's spring training complex in Sarasota when the team leaves for a road trip following Thursday's series finale against the Boston Red Sox.

"That's way far ahead of where I am at in my process of getting back," Matusz said. "I haven't thought that far ahead. This is my first time going through an injury and having to rehab myself back to get back to my season form. I have never had to do that before so it is all new to me."

Showalter said that the young left-hander will need to make at least three rehab appearances, along with a two-inning stint in an extended spring training game before he's ready to pitch in the big leagues.

"We've set up his whole schedule in the most conservative scenario of when he'd be able to pitch in the big leagues again if everything went on time," Showalter said. "He could be moved up, but we'd have to feel comfortable with it. … It's pretty one-sided for all of us. We're going to get it right. We're not going to have this [continue]."

Matusz's immediate focus is on his scheduled flat-ground session Sunday, when he'll throw from 120 feet. If all goes well, he'll throw bullpen sessions on Tuesday and Thursday in front of pitching coach Mark Connor and bullpen coach Rick Adair before he heads back to Florida.

"He's close to pitching," Showalter said. "One, we know that the weather will be better there and we'd like to have his first outing be in that type of weather. Who knows what it's going to be [with] our affiliates? We'd rather have him right there so when he's ready to go, he can go, and we can kind of pick and choose where the best place might be from there."

In other injury news, shortstop J.J Hardy (strained left oblique) is scheduled to take some dry swings on Monday, his first baseball activities since going on the disabled list. Hardy's return remains a ways off and Showalter said that the shortstop will need to play in at least two rehab games before rejoining the club.