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Ubaldo Jimenez concentrating on correcting delivery in second spring outing

It is no secret that Ubaldo Jimenez's unconventional delivery has many pieces to it, and the Orioles right-hander is spending his first spring training outings trying to perfect a series of slight mechanical adjustments so that they become second nature when the regular season arrives.

It's always a challenge. If his mechanics get out of whack, so does his performance. So while games don't count, this is the time for him to be more concerned with the process than the results. That's why the Orioles gave him the ball in their spring opener: to ensure Jimenez gets enough innings to work out the kinks by Opening Day.

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In his second Grapefruit League start, Sunday afternoon's 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins, he followed an ugly spring debut with something he could build on.

Jimenez battled his control again, issuing three walks in two-plus innings, but also struck out five batters — including the side in the second inning.

He allowed one run on two hits and left the game two batters into the third inning after throwing 58 pitches, but the damage could have been much worse. He allowed three of the first four batters he faced to reach base in a 28-pitch first inning, one in which he went to three-ball counts against four of the six batters he faced.

"It's about consistent command," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "One of the things about last year and this year is that he doesn't get cuffed up a lot. It's not a matter of trusting stuff; it's just a matter of delivery and getting the ball where he needs to get the count in his favor."

In his start in the Orioles' spring opener Tuesday, Jimenez didn't get out of the second inning, allowing six runs — five earned — on two hits, two walks, two hit batters and one throwing error.

After the outing, Jimenez said he went back to dissect his delivery with pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti. They pored over film and decided to make an adjustment.

After he was demoted to the bullpen late last season, Jimenez tweaked his delivery with the help of Wallace and Chiti — he stopped lifting his hands over and behind his head — and won his last two spot starts.

This time, the three tried to make Jimenez's delivery more fluid. They tested it in a bullpen session before Jimenez's start, but Sunday was the first time he was able to use it in a game.

"Probably in the last start, I had better command, but today I was able to put in the game what I was working [on] in the bullpen," Jimenez said. "That's why I'm happy. I took what I was practicing, I took it into the game, and I didn't forget it.

Instead of moving his hands behind him when he steps toward the plate, he is trying a cleaner, sweeping motion when he reaches back to deliver.

"It might be a little different, but it's all the same," Jimenez said. "We're working trying to get the same thing, trying to get my hands down, so it's pretty much the same thing, but it might be a little different. It's still the same goal."

Showalter said the adjustment is an extension of the work Wallace and Chiti did with Jimenez late last year.

"Some of it is just a continuation of what he was doing September last year, some of August," Showalter said. "Little by little. It's nothing drastic, but it's something that's different for him, and when you've been pitching as long as he has ... [you're] just trying to give him some things so he can be a little more consistent."

Jimenez opened Sunday's appearance by walking Twins leadoff hitter Jordan Schafer on four pitches. After striking out Torii Hunter, he allowed an RBI double to first baseman Joe Mauer on a 3-1 pitch.

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He fell behind cleanup hitter Miguel Sano 3-0 before walking him, but stranded two runners on base after striking out Chris Herrmann and inducing an inning-ending forceout at third.

"I was a little bit too slow with the curve the first couple of hitters, especially the leadoff guy," Jimenez said. "I was too slow with my mechanics. Once I got through that, I was able to let it go."

Jimenez then struck out the side in the second, retiring the bottom third of the order: Eduardo Escobar, Eddie Rosario and Eric Fryer.

He was pulled after he allowed the first two batters he faced in the third to reach base, walking Schafer again and allowing a single to Hunter. Orioles left-hander T.J. McFarland saved Jimenez, inducing a 4-6-3 double play and an inning-ending popout.

"He wants to do well," Showalter said of Jimenez. "He was better this time than last time out, and we hope he can take it and go with it. First batter was, what, a four-pitch walk? Then he settled in and pitched OK after that. If you care a lot, you are going to grind it and think about things. But when you get out there between the lines, hopefully, it's a building point and [you] go from there. But it was better."

Jimenez hopes to carry the adjustment into his third spring start.

"Just hopefully putting everything together," Jimenez said. "Hopefully, to get to the point where, when I get into the game, I don't have to remember about stuff that I have to do. I can just get hitters out. … That's my goal, to pitch as much as I can so that whenever the season starts, I don't have to worry about mechanics. I want to be able to be out there and be able to do my stuff to get ready for the season."

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