CHICAGO -- Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez said his transition to the bullpen was made easier Saturday when the Orioles brought him in following their three-hour, nine-minute rain delay.
The delay allowed Jimenez to make his first relief appearance since his major league debut in 2006 with the same routine to which he has been accustomed as a starting pitcher over the past eight seasons.
“It’s pretty much the same because I had time to get loose,” said Jimenez, who allowed one run in four innings during the Orioles’ 7-2 loss. “I had time to stretch and warm up. I felt good, and I was able to do my job. … I felt good. I was able to throw strikes. I was able to go four innings and made sure [a few] other guys didn’t have to pitch, so it was good.
Jimenez, who was removed from the starting rotation last week, said he knew he might pitch Saturday because the delay occurred so early in the game.
“They told me about it, but before they told me, I was guessing,” Jimenez said. “It was only the second inning, and they needed me to go out there because I could pretty much throw 60- or 70-whatever pitches.”
Jimenez, who threw 44 of his 75 pitches for strikes, allowed just one hit over his first three innings Saturday before issuing a leadoff walk to Ryan Sweeney in the bottom of the sixth. Sweeney later scored on a two-out single by Chris Valaika.
“I felt good,” Jimenez said. “I was pretty happy to be out and be able to be out there for the bullpen. … Being with the guys is always fun, but being in the bullpen is kind of different. It’s different because you have to wait for such a long time. You never know when you’re going to be able to pitch, so it’s different than being a starter.
Phelps designated for assignment
The Orioles designated Cord Phelps, who can play all four infield positions and both corner outfield spots, for assignment before Sunday’s game.
The move was necessary in order to make room on the 25-man roster for right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, who started Sunday’s series finale against the Cubs. The club now will play one bench player short by adding Gonzalez to make a 13-man pitching staff.
Rosters expand a week from Monday, but Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he could add a bench player before then, if needed.
Phelps, 27, has a prior outright, so he can refuse an assignment back to the minor leagues and declare free agency if he clears waivers. But by returning to the Orioles’ minor league system, Phelps would be on the short list of infielders who could earn a call up when rosters expand or to join a reserve squad in Sarasota of players working out in case there’s a need down the stretch.
“It’s a win-win for him in a lot of ways,” Showalter said. “He’s either going to end up in the big leagues here shortly or hopefully comes back to a team that likes what he brings and appreciates it. He has a prior outright, so he has the right to make all these decisions that you earn by doing what he’s done.”
Around the horn
The Orioles are 18-25 in day games this season. … After an 0-for-3 afternoon, right fielder Nick Markakis is hitless in his last 19 at-bats. It is his longest stretch this season without a hit. … Center fielder Adam Jones drew a first-inning walk Sunday, his 16th of the season. Eleven have come against left-handed pitchers. … The Orioles have spent all 24 days in August in first place. By comparison, from 1998 to 2013, they led the American League East for a total of nine days from Aug. 1 to the end of the season. … The Orioles’ three-hour, nine-minute rain delay Saturday was their longest since a delay of the same length before a game against the Kansas City Royals on Aug. 12, 2012. Eddie Murray’s statue also was unveiled that day at Camden Yards.