Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez was back with his teammates Monday after pitching well in an injury rehabilitation start at Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday night. And he said he is eager to get back on the mound in a major league game.
“[I’ll] hopefully pitch in five or six days,” said Jimenez, who hasn’t pitched for the Orioles since July 5 and has been on the disabled list with a sprained right ankle since July 13. “It’s been a while since I have played in a game over here. I’m really excited about it, and I’m looking forward to being on the mound one of these days.”
When that will be has not been determined, according to Orioles manager Buck Showalter. But Jimenez won’t start in the series against the Toronto Blue Jays.
“See how he feels [Tuesday] with it, take his work day when he needs to, and we’ll see how it slots out after Thursday,” Showalter said.
With the other five Orioles starters pitching well, Showalter would not commit to Jimenez returning immediately to the rotation. In the middle of July, though, Showalter said he expected that would be the case.
“We are going to see what best fits us between now and [when he is ready],” Showalter said Monday. “We’ve got some other things to look at it, and see where it fits, see where we are in a lot of areas. When we get to that point, I am hoping everyone continues to pitch well in our rotation and that we have a good … situation to solve.”
Jimenez, who is 3-8 with a 4.52 ERA in 18 starts this season, said he assumes he will return to the starting rotation. Jimenez has started 229 of the 230 games he has pitched in his nine-season career; the only relief outing was a one-inning stint in his major league debut Sept. 26, 2006.
Jimenez, 30, said moving into a relief role has not been discussed with him.
“I never throw out of the bullpen,” Jimenez said. “Probably one inning [in his debut] and haven’t since.”
Jimenez threw six innings for the Tides against Buffalo on Sunday, allowing one run, five hits and two walks while striking out three batters. He threw 59 of his 94 pitches for strikes.
“I didn’t have any concern about my ankle,” he said. “I was able to throw 90-something pitches, threw all my pitches, breaking balls, fastball. Everything was working good.”
Talking with wounded soldiers in Bethesda
Earlier Monday, nine Orioles players as well as Showalter and his wife, Angela, visited the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the USO Warrior and Family Center, both in Bethesda. The players chatted with wounded soldiers, something the club attempts to do annually while playing the Washington Nationals.
“That was my first time. It was a good experience,” Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez said. “It makes you appreciate a little more what you’re doing here. I’m seeing those guys out there, and they’re happy, they’re smiling.”
Besides Gonzalez, the other Orioles making the visits were: pitchers Zach Britton, Darren O’Day, Brad Brach, T.J. McFarland and Andrew Miller, catchers Matt Wieters and Nick Hundley and infielder Ryan Flaherty.
It made for a long day, since the Orioles had their makeup game Monday at Nationals Park and then had to fly to Toronto. But Gonzalez, for one, said that wasn’t an issue.
“I think we learned a lot today just by going to a military hospital. I’m happy. I’m happy I’m here,” Gonzalez said.
Showalter has made the trip to Walter Reed several times, and he said he’s always emotionally affected by the strength and spirit of the people he meets.
“A very rewarding day,” Showalter said. “It’s an unbelievable honor to think that our guys’ presence there helps.”
Around the horn
Right-hander Bud Norris, who will pitch Tuesday against the Blue Jays, was supposed to fly into Toronto on Monday night but all the flights there from Baltimore were canceled, Showalter said. So Norris traveled to Washington to take the team plane to Toronto. … Double-A Bowie right-hander Zach Davies was named Eastern League Pitcher of the Week after going 2-0 with 13 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings over two starts. The 21-year-old is 7-2 with 1.88 ERA in his last nine starts. … With his home run Monday, right fielder Nick Markakis now has 20 or more doubles and 10 or more homers in nine straight seasons. That ties Brady Anderson for the fourth-longest streak in modern franchise history. Cal Ripken Jr. is the leader with 17 straight seasons with those numbers.