Tejada remembers Jose Lima as 'such a great person'

Notebook

Orioles shortstop, ex-pitcher were Dominican Winter League teammates

  • Brian Matusz walks back to the mound after giving up a three-run homer to Adam Rosales, who rounds the bases in the background.
Brian Matusz walks back to the mound after giving up a three-run… (Baltimore Sun photo by Kenneth…)
May 27, 2010|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

Miguel Tejada is often touted as a "high energy" ballplayer, but the Orioles third baseman said he learned from the best, his former Dominican Winter League teammate and ex-big league pitcher Jose Lima.

When Lima died Sunday of a massive heart attack at age 37, Tejada was crestfallen.

"He was the happiest guy you'd ever see. He always had energy. He was always happy, he was never mad," said Tejada, who played several seasons with Lima for Aguilas, a DWL power. "And that's why we all hurt. I feel so sorry for his family to lose such a great person."

A funeral service for Lima was originally scheduled for Thursday in New York, and Tejada was planning to leave Baltimore after Wednesday night's game against the Oakland Athletics, pay his respects Thursday morning and travel back to Camden Yards for Thursday's series finale.

But because of paperwork complications, Lima's New York service was pushed back to Friday. With the Orioles flying to Toronto after Thursday's game, Tejada said he wouldn't be able to make the funeral. Instead, his brother and father will represent the Tejadas at Lima's funeral Saturday in the Dominican Republic.

"My family will be there, and we will try to be as supportive as we can for his family," Tejada said.

Lima won 89 games in a 13-season major league career and represented the Houston Astros in the 1999 All-Star Game. He was known for his effervescent personality, his boasts of "Lima Time" when he pitched and his popularity in the Dominican.

"It's like something that can happen to someone my age, to us, to anybody," said Tejada, 36. "He had been a healthy man, and his heart gave [out] in one moment. And our whole country is feeling pain to lose him."

Ohman keeps same approach

With injuries to three closers, the Orioles have no set pitcher to go into in the ninth inning. Left-handed reliever Will Ohman understands that, and he also knows that by throwing 15 2/3 scoreless innings in his first 25 games, he has earned the confidence of manager Dave Trembley and pitching coach Rick Kranitz.

Ohman pitched a perfect ninth inning in a nonsave situation Tuesday, and he said he is not changing his mind-set even if he starts getting save opportunities.

"I don't think there is any difference in the preparation. It still remains the same: Get three outs before they touch home," said Ohman, who had three big league saves in 324 games heading into 2010. "My job is to be ready when the phone rings as opposed to a specific inning. So that will remain unchanged."

If put in save opportunities, Ohman said, he would embrace the challenge.

"I don't know who wouldn't," he said. "If given the opportunity, there is no reason I wouldn't want to do that."

A new Corey?

Outfielder Corey Patterson, whom Trembley has known since Patterson was an 18-year-old phenom in the Chicago Cubs organization, looks like a different player this time around in the big leagues, Trembley said.

"If you look where he was in his career, and you look what he is doing now, he has really changed his style of his game," said Trembley, who said he and Patterson spoke at length before Wednesday's game.

Patterson, 30, who was out of baseball this spring before signing a minor league deal with the Orioles, is walking about every eight plate appearances this season compared with once every 22 for his career. He also seems more willing to bunt and take advantage of his blazing speed, though Trembley would still like to see Patterson steal more.

"He's capable of doing that, bunt for a hit, they give it to him," Trembley said. "There were a couple situations in Washington, even though we were behind, I wanted him to steal a base and he didn't. And I told him that is part of his game and that will get us going somewhat offensively, because we need to play that kind of game. We don't have many guys here that can do that."

Scott expected to start Friday

Luke Scott, who hasn't played since straining his left shoulder on a dive in Sunday's 10th inning, wasn't in the starting lineup Thursday but is expected to start Friday night in Toronto. Scott took 25 swings off a tee and participated in three rounds of batting practice, declaring himself pain-free.

"I didn't turn it loose, but I put some good effort in it and it felt pretty good, so I should be ready [Friday]," he said.

Around the horn

Reliever Alfredo Simon (left hamstring), who heads to Sarasota, Fla., Friday for injury rehabilitation along with second baseman Brian Roberts (back) and reliever Koji Uehara (right elbow), said his leg is improving but he still feels some pain. He has ridden an exercise bike but doesn't know when he'll start throwing. "It won't be long," he said. … Adam Jones' single in the second inning Thursday extended his career-high hitting streak to 13 games. … Double-A Bowie shortstop Pedro Florimon Jr. (strained oblique) is expected to miss two to four weeks. …. Triple-A Norfolk first baseman Michael Aubrey (hip flexor) remains about a week away from returning to the lineup. … Saturday's starter, Chris Tillman, was at Camden Yards briefly Thursday, but left before clubhouses opened.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

http://twitter.com/danconnollysun

Baltimore Sun columnist Peter Schmuck contributed to this article.

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