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Orioles' Ubaldo Jimenez: 'I have no doubt that I’ll be able to work my way back'

Even though Ubaldo Jimenez has been demoted to the bullpen yet again, the Orioles right-hander said he's confident he will overcome his early-season struggles and get another opportunity to start.

"I have no doubt," Jimenez said before Saturday's game. "I have no doubt that I'll be able to work my way back, no matter however it is or wherever it is. I have no doubt. I have a lot of faith that things change."

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Jimenez was bumped from the starting rotation Friday, with his next turn in the rotation Sunday filled by right-hander Alec Asher.

In Jimenez's four years with the Orioles, he has been sent to the bullpen in three of those seasons.

"It's never different," Jimenez said. "It's always a tough time, but it is what it is. I know I wasn't able to do what I was supposed to do and I have to move on from that. I have to find a way to help the team any way I can and get back.

"It was pretty much [explained] the same as the times before. They just explained that they had to find a way to have someone who could do obviously better. That's how it went down."

In years past, Jimenez has been able to use going to the bullpen to work out mechanical flaws in his delivery. But this time around, he goes to the bullpen feeling there isn't much to correct in his delivery. In years past, the Orioles also had the luxury of allowing Jimenez to work through his problems, but this season he will likely be needed for innings even though the club has a seven-man bullpen.

"I don't think my mechanics were bad. I was just getting hit. That's pretty much what happened," Jimenez said. "And in years before, I really didn't have time to work on things. It was just that when I got back, I was able to do what I was supposed to do. But in the bullpen, you have less time to work on things than when you're starting because when you're starting you know what you're supposed to do each day. In the bullpen, you have to get ready to pitch at any given time."

“You almost rather it be mechanical,” manager Buck Showalter said. “Maybe the consistency of his command has been a challenge. … Sometimes it’s mental and emotional, too. He’s got to get to where he’s waiting for something good to happen instead of the other way around. When you’re making good pitches and they’re getting hit, that can kind of weigh on your mind a little.” 

Hart returns to bullpen

The Orioles recalled left-hander Donnie Hart from Triple-A Norfolk before Saturday's game, optioning left-hander Jayson Aquino back to the Tides.

Hart was optioned 10 days ago, so Saturday was the first day he was eligible to return. He tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings for Norfolk, allowing four hits while striking out three and walking none. His time there included one extended outing of 1 2/3 innings.

“He was able to semi-work on some things there,” Showalter said. “He was so good last year and had been some this year, but his fastball command has kind of gotten away from him a little bit. It’s something he really wanted to work on in his outings down there.”

Hart said his brief time in Norfolk was beneficial.

"It was good," Hart said. "You don't want to say take a step back, catch your breath, but it's different not pitching in front of a lot of people. Your focus level is higher, I think, just because you've got to remind yourself that you're still trying to get outs. It was good. I almost went two innings the first outing, so that was good. I got my pitch count up there to like 35, I think. And the next two times I think I threw 10-15 pitches. That was it. So that was good."

In 13 2/3 innings with the Orioles, Hart struggled against lefties – which was his strength going into the season – allowing a .308/.379/.385 hitting line against them.

"I think the numbers kind of, worse than how it really looked," Hart said. "I can probably go back and count five or six infield hits off lefties. It was one of those things where balls were finding holes. I went down there and worked on slider and fastball command and made sure it was all there and still had it. And that's one of the things I was really good at last year was making hitters feel like they were on their heels the entire at-bat, trying to [groove] fastballs between them and the plate. And that's one thing I'm going to have to get back to is doing that, because that's what gives me a lot of success."

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