Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, the club’s most expensive acquisition in the offseason, said he believes his right ankle is ready and he is looking forward to pitching Saturday against the St. Louis Cardinals.
It will be his first start in the majors since allowing four earned runs in 3 2/3 innings on July 5 in Boston. He hasn’t pitched at Camden Yards since June 30.
“Probably not nervous, but I’m going to be anxious to be out there,” Jimenez said. “But I’ll be able to calm down. I know I’m going to be thinking about it as just another game, but definitely it’s not because it has been a while since I’ve pitched over here and I’m very excited about it.”
He’ll be pitching in front of a national TV audience against a team that is fighting for a playoff spot in the National League on a weekend that is focusing on the great Orioles teams of yesteryear. He said he’s not concerned about any outside pressures.
“The most important thing for me is to be on the mound with my teammates. Be sharing the same field, that’s the No. 1 thing,” he said. “I don’t think about those other things.”
Signed in February to a four-year, $50 million deal to stabilize the rotation, Jimenez has been a disappointment going 3-8 with a 4.52 ERA. While he has been gone, the other five members of the rotation have thrived, making his spot somewhat precarious.
“They’ve been really good and that’s definitely great to see,” he said. “That you don’t feel like you have to rush to be there because definitely the guys have been doing a great job. But for me it’s been really tough because I’m not used to being on the DL and being away from pitching for so many days, for such a long time. So it was hard.”
Jimenez will be making his first start of the second half on Saturday. Last year, he was among baseball’s best pitchers with the Cleveland Indians in the second half, going 6-5 with a 1.82 ERA in 13 starts.
“It’s a good thing that I was able to do that last year because it gave me more confidence this year that definitely I can turn things around,” he said. “I’m going to be looking forward to doing that for this team.”
Here is the Orioles lineup for Friday: Markakis 9, Machado 5, Jones 8, Cruz DH, Davis 3, Hardy 6, Flaherty 4, Lough 7, Hundley 2. Tillman 1.
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