TORONTO -- Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez will come off the 15-day disabled list and return to the starting rotation for Saturday’s interleague game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Camden Yards, Showalter said Thursday.
Since Jimenez returned from a minor league rehab assignment Sunday, the club hadn’t decided its next step with him — whether he would return to the rotation or go to the bullpen. Jimenez hasn’t pitched since July 5 and he has been on the disabled list with a right ankle sprain since July 13.
But after a bullpen session Wednesday that Jimenez called his best of the season, the Orioles decided to give Jimenez — who is 3-8 with a 4.52 ERA on 18 starts this season — the start Saturday.
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“He’s healthy, and he’s ready to go,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s physically in good shape, and he’s really looking forward to getting back in the fight and helping his teammates.”
Jimenez is 2-3 with a 3.33 ERA in eight starts against the Cardinals, holding them to a .236 batting average.
Right-hander Chris Tillman will start Friday’s opener against St. Louis. He traveled back to Baltimore ahead of the team to avoid an early morning arrival after Thursday’s game. But Showalter said he hasn’t decided on Sunday’s starter between right-hander Kevin Gausman and right-hander Bud Norris.
The Orioles don’t need to make a corresponding move to make room for Jimenez on the 25-man roster until before Saturday’s game, and Showalter said that move likely will be dictated by how much the bullpen is needed in the two games leading up to Saturday.
The Orioles likely would need to option a relief pitcher, and left-handed long reliever T.J. McFarland would appear to be the most likely candidate, but he is very valuable in that he can turn around a lineup following a short outing by a right-handed starter.
Right-handed starter Miguel Gonzalez, who started Thursday in Toronto, also could be used out of the bullpen and is able to be optioned.
“Let’s see,” Showalter said. “Something could happen [Thursday] that would dictate that we would need a pitcher tomorrow. We don’t have to make a move for Ubaldo [until] Saturday, but if we have issues in our bullpen that we want to cover tomorrow, then we’d make it before Saturday for somebody in the bullpen. We’re going to continue to cover the ‘what ifs.’”
As for Sunday, Norris is 8-6 with a 3.23 ERA in 16 career starts against the Cardinals, all coming when he pitched for the Houston Astros. He rolled his right ankle in his last start, but the ankle is fine and wouldn't affect him from starting. Gausman has never faced St. Louis.