An article ran in today's edition of The Baltimore Sun about tonight's starter, Ubaldo Jimenez, the 30-year-old right-hander who many see as a primary key to the Orioles' success this year.
If he can be the dominating pitcher that he was in the second half of last year, the Orioles will finally have a veteran ace for the first time since Mike Mussina left for the New York Yankees after the 2000 season. And Jimenez could make up a heck of a one-two punch with Opening Day starter Chris Tillman.
But if Jimenez struggles like he did in 2012, for instance, it could severely affect the team’s chances to go deep into this year’s postseason.
Here are some quotes from Jimenez that I couldn’t get into the main article.
I had Ubaldo for ’07, ’08 and part of ’09. I liked the kid. He really blossomed after I left. He’s a young man who loves to compete. Tireless worker. Preparation. [Baltimore] could be right up his alley. I think he found his way back from some challenges in Cleveland. I’m not sure what happened because I wasn’t around. I’ve always liked the guy. I’ve always thought he had a good feel to pitch. He always took the ball, he likes pitching innings. It’s a good, tough division. He could be a big shot in the arm for them, no doubt.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter on Jimenez’s durability:
On the free-agent market, if you did all the work, he probably was the best medical risk of all of them, if you look at his track record and his health and his physicals, all of them. Now that probably means he’ll get hurt and not pitch for four years.
Showalter on Jimenez’s funky delivery, which can be hard to repeat:
That’s something that’s intriguing. If you talk about arm action, if you really slow it down, where he gets his [arm] slot when his foot lands is textbook. But getting there sometimes is what gets him out of whack. But it’s also what hitters talk about. They don’t see the ball off of him. There’s going to be some nights where they won’t see the ball off of him.
Alexi Casilla, who has known Jimenez since they were boys in the Dominican Republic, on Jimenez’s personality:
He is kind of shy sometimes, and can be very quiet. So, maybe at home, he is a different person, or outside [of baseball]. But I always know him as very quiet, nice guy.
Jimenez on who has inspired him:
My family, my parents. They have been there for me ever since I was a little kid. I am here today because of them, because of the example that they set for me. They worked hard every day, and they never gave up.
Jimenez on when he realized he might become a professional baseball player:
Probably when I got to be about 15. I used to play center field before, and then I started pitching when I was 15. But I only played for fun. When I got to be 16, I saw myself throwing really hard. And guys couldn’t hit me anymore. And then I saw a couple of my friends going pro. I was like, ‘Wow, I have a chance. I have a really good arm, and they are not hitting the ball.'
Jimenez on his growth spurt (he’s now 6 feet 5):
My mother would tell me, ‘Oh you are going to be shorter than your dad.’ Until I got to 14, I was smaller compared to the other kids. But then I got to be about 15, 16, and I started growing up. I remember I was 16, and I was taller than my dad. He was 5-11. And then by the time I was 17, I was 6-2. I grew like four inches from the time I was 16 until I signed when I was 17.
Jimenez on pitching in Camden Yards:
I think it is going to be easier than pitching in Colorado, for sure. Because I mean the balls go out [at Camden Yards], but at least you get a feel for the ball. In Colorado, the balls go out, and you don’t have any feel for your breaking ball. Baltimore, it is humid -- when it gets to be summer, it will be hot and humid -- and that’s good for the breaking ball because everything will move. In Colorado, you never get a feel for the breaking ball.”
Jimenez on the pressure that comes with his big contract:
It’ll never be more pressure than what I put on myself when I go out every time. I try to be the best I can be every fifth day. I don’t look at it like it’s going to be more pressure, I look at it as an opportunity to be there for the team, and hopefully, be who they want me to be.”
Jimenez on his ubiquitous smile:
Even when things seem like they are going bad, or if they are going good, I always stay the same. ... I come to this team with the same attitude: Be happy, have fun and be here for the team. You are going to have good times and bad times, so you have to enjoy it every single time when things are good.
Jimenez on what he’d do if he weren’t playing baseball:
“My mom was a nurse and ... the way [my dad] raised me was like being in the army. He wanted me to walk in a straight line, always have my chest out. He made me stop [everything] when they were singing the national anthem, something in the Dominican you don’t see a lot of people doing. But he was in the army, so he raised me that way. So I would probably be in medicine, in school learning to be a doctor, or in the air force or the army.