“Those two years were a nightmare, but they're in the past,” he said. “As a player, I just have to forget about it and I look forward to the future. I had a great second half last year, and that's what I'm going to take. I'm going to be prepared, and I know that I have the confidence to go out there and .... that I'm healthy and I'm going to be able to compete every five days.”
The Orioles’ deal with Jimenez first developed during December’s winter meetings, where pitching coach Dave Wallace, Duquette and Duquette’s special assistant, Lee Thomas, met with Jimenez and his agent, Fernando Cuza.
“Right there, I knew,” Jimenez said. “They’re really humble, really down-to-earth guys, and I knew it was going to be special to be in this organization. Right there, I was like, ‘Pretty much, this is the team I want to be with.’ It’s going to be a big part of my future for me and my family. The city is great and they have a competitive team. Those guys in the clubhouse look like they are great guys.”
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Duquette compared Jimenez to former Dodgers right-hander Ramon Martinez, a former client of Cuza who was groomed by Wallace when he was the Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitching coach. Wallace also coached Martinez’s brother, three-time Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez, in Boston.
“There is a little bit of a similarity there,” Wallace said when told of the comparison to Ramon Martinez. “Certainly the athletic build. He’s a long, lean guy. He’s probably a little bit thicker than Ramon was. Their deliveries are a little bit different, even though when you’re that long and that lean, it’s a little difficult to keep everything together. … [His delivery] is unique, but that’s why he’s effective. We’ll wait and see.”
With a 6-foot-5, 210-pound build, Jimenez will bring an unconventional herky-jerky delivery that can frustrate opposing hitters with his hard downward angle. He averaged a career-high 9.6 strikeouts a game last season, and while his delivery has led to wildness over his career, he posted an impressive 3.70 strikeout-to-walk ratio in the second half of 2013.
“The stuff is there,” Wieters said. “The ability is there. You’ve seen it through his major league career. He has stretches where he’s almost unhittable. He’s got so much leverage and so much height that he uses it well. And that’s always nice, to have that kind of angle, because you can make some mistakes and still .... get some ground balls and get away with it.
“On top of that, I think last year, at the end of the year, he really learned how to be able to pitch and locate his fastball and mix in his off-speed stuff. Before, he always had unbelievable stuff, and he still does, but with that location coming along a little bit, you really see what kind of success he can have.”
After facing him, Davis said he’s glad to have Jimenez on his side now.
“I think the first time we faced him last year was in Baltimore, and the second time we faced him, it was in Cleveland and he just shoved it down our throats,” Davis said. “We were like, ‘Whoa, this guy’s found his fastball.’ He was dominant. He comes from a hard angle and he’s got a lot of movement on it.”