After a rough start to his Orioles career last year, right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez is looking forward to a fresh start in 2015.
Jimenez, who signed a four-year, $50 million contract last spring training, struggled in his first season with the Orioles, going 6-9 with a 4.81 ERA, losing his rotation spot and being left off the team's American League Championship Series roster.
"I can't wait," Jimenez said at Saturday's FanFest event. "Whatever happened in 2014 is in the past. There's nothing I can do about it now. I can just look forward and now I'm going to do everything in spring training to get myself ready the best I can for the season and help the team."
There was optimism late in the season, but still, Jimenez's 2014 performance was a major disappointment, especially considering the Orioles gave him the largest deal to a free-agent pitcher in club history.
"It was pretty hard, coming in with a new team and signing a contract like that and not to do what everyone is expecting you to do, it's hard," Jimenez said. "It's hard not to be there for the team, but regardless what happened, I fought a lot. I think I was trying to find a way to survive to be there for the team and do whatever I can do the best. We got really far. I didn't help a lot, but I tried to do whatever I could with whatever I had."
Jimenez will be one of six starters competing for five rotation spots this spring -- and he was the odd man out late in the season -- but he said he plans to go into spring training more concerned about getting himself ready than competing for a spot.
"This is like my 13th spring training, six in the minor leagues, so I'm going to have the same goal as the others before," Jimenez said. "And that's getting myself ready for the season. It doesn't matter how. That's the only thing I have to worry [about], just getting ready for the season. It doesn't matter what people are expecting or what people are saying. There's only one worry and that's getting ready for the season."
Despite not appearing in the American League Division Series and being left off the ALCS roster, Jimenez finished the regular season with a 3.27 ERA in his last three outings and wins in his last two starts. That was a result of working with pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti on his mechanics once he was sent to the bullpen.
"We were working on staying close, trying not to open up, working on my footwork," Jimenez said. "It was a couple things. I think I got it down because at the end of the season, especially my last couple starts -- I know I walked a couple guys, but I felt really good mechanic-wise. I was able to throw more inside. I was able to throw more fastballs. I've been working on that right now, too.
"My mechanics are not the mechanics you're used to seeing every day with other pitchers. It takes a little bit more time, a little bit more hard work to get it going. I keep repeating it. The last couple -- two or three -- years I've been dealing with injuries, talking about leg-wise. Last year, I had the ankle problem, so that makes it a little more difficult to get it going."
Jimenez said he has rebounded from difficult seasons in the past. Most recently, he came back from a rocky 2012 in Cleveland to go 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA with the Indians in 2013 before becoming a free agent.
"It's not going to be hard," Jimenez said. "That's something that since I started playing baseball I've put in my mind, forget about the past. There's nothing you can do with it. That's something that's helped me out in my career. This is not the first time I've struggled and I find a way to get back on track and it's because of that. I find a way to get back on track and get the job done."