SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles pitching coach Dave Wallace watched intently from behind the mound as Ubaldo Jimenez threw his first bullpen session in an Orioles uniform Thursday.
It was the first mound session Jimenez has thrown in a while – Wallace said he’s thrown off flat ground – but Wallace isn’t concerned that Jimenez is behind.
“I think it’s early enough that he can catch up,” Wallace said. “He threw a light side today and felt pretty good. … If he’s behind a few days it’s not a big issue right now. You look at him, he’s long he’s lean and he’s been healthy of the course of his career, so we’ll talk to him and get his feel for how he’s gone through spring training and what works for him and go from there. There’s no hurry at this point. It’s February 20th.
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“I think he’s going to be on track. The more important factor is remembering that we’re in for a long season and to do it one time and get it right and get him ready for the year.”
Wallace said he hasn’t had the chance to dissect much tape of Jimenez. But, when he does, he will not only look at tape of Jimenez’s solid 2013 season, but also look at his struggles in 2011 and 2012.
“I think you have to do both,” Wallace said. “You look at him during the tough times, during the good time and try to form your own opinions. But most of all get to know him personally and a trust factor hopefully comes into play where you study the player long enough. And once you understand who he is and what he is, if and when something happens and you have to say something to him about his pitching, it makes sense to him and therefore you build a relationship and trust.”
Wallace said he wanted to evaluate Jimenez's struggles carefully.
“We’re still in the process of doing that and trying to figure it all out,” he said. “I don’t want to do it too fast. We’d like to do it one time and see if there’s something there. There may not be. It may an ankle issue. It may be something else. It could be something where somebody irritated him and it didn’t translate well to what’s [happening] on the field. It’s hard to say, but no, we don’t have a handle on that yet.”
Wallace did know how good Jimenez was in 2013.
“He was consistent, consistent in the strike zone with all his pitches,” he said. “He was able to throw his secondary pitches in cripple counts and get them over. He stayed healthy. I think it was his last 27-28 starts, he was pretty good.”
Jimenez posted a 2.61 ERA in his last 28 starts last season.
“He had some really good outings and he had some where he struggled a little bit,” Wallace said of Jimenez’s career. “But I think over a six-year period, 30 starts for a starter, that’s a pretty good indication of what we’re going to have. Hopefully, 180, 200, 210 innings and hopefully maybe a little more consistent. We’ll see. … His track record is pretty good as far as taking the ball every fifth day.”