Ubaldo Jimenez to start Tuesday against Blue Jays

Prospect Christian Walker likely won't join team this month

September 13, 2014|By Eduardo A. Encina | The Baltimore Sun

Ubaldo Jimenez, who has made just two relief appearances since being moved to the bullpen nearly a month ago, will receive at least one more start before the regular season ends. The right-hander will start Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter selected Jimenez over left-handed relievers T.J. McFarland and Joe Saunders.

“We feel like it disrupts our bullpen the least; we think that he's the most equipped lengthwise,” Showalter said. “We feel like he's better equipped to pitch that part than say behind Mac or Joe. Also, we think he's our best option to win the game. Obviously, we knew we were going to need a pitcher there.”

Jimenez threw a simulated game between games of Friday's doubleheader, but he hasn't pitched in a game since Aug. 31, when four of five batters he faced reached base in the ninth inning of a 12-8 win over the Twins. His last start was Aug. 16 at Cleveland, when he allowed six runs on five hits over 41/3 innings in a 9-4 loss to the Indians. Days later, Jimenez was sent to the bullpen. Showalter said Jimenez has taken it well.

“He's not happy about it, make no mistake about it,” Showalter said. “He wants to be contributing, and he has this year. He has. We were at that time of the season when we had six guys and it was more beneficial for them to pitch every fifth day and more beneficial for our team. He's handled it as well [as possible]. He's been a good teammate.”

Jimenez is 2-3 with a 4.89 ERA in seven career starts against the Blue Jays. In his last appearance against Toronto he recorded a quality start despite issuing five walks. He allowed two runs on three hits over six innings June 13.

Even though he's pitched just 41/3 innings since his last start, Jimenez is still second in the American League with 70 walks. But with three years remaining on his four-year, $50 million deal after this season, giving Jimenez an opportunity to build on something positive with a start could benefit him next year.

“The thing is, he's healthy,” Showalter said. “He knows it's there, and that's why it's frustrating for him. ... And it's frustrating for us because we can't seem to get to it consistently. And the command's been the issue — the walks, the extra base runners — which creates a bad tempo to the game, which creates a tough offense for us.”

Given that Jimenez hasn't pitched regularly, he appears to be a long shot for the postseason rotation, but Showalter wouldn't rule him out, especially if he pitches well Tuesday.

“He pitches seven shutout innings and he's on the playoff roster pitching in Game 1? I don't know,” Showalter said. “This game is about pitching, hitting and going with the hot guys. Who gets hot at the right time of the year. I wouldn't preclude anything.”

No Walker call-up

Showalter said he doesn't plan on bringing up an extra infielder from the players working out in Sarasota. A recalled player would have to see regular action this month and have a good chance of making the team's Opening Day 25-man roster next year, or would need to be placed on the club's 40-man roster in the offseason, Showalter said.

So despite Chris Davis' suspension, first baseman Christian Walker — the Orioles' minor league player of the year — likely won't join the team because he doesn't need to be placed on the 40-man roster this offseason to protect him in the offseason Rule5 draft. He will likely open the season at Triple-A Norfolk next season after earning a midseason promotion to the Tides.

Walker, the Orioles' fourth-round pick in 2012, won't be eligible for the Rule 5 draft until after the 2015 season.

“Unless I'm going to play them every day or mostly every day, or if I know they're going to be on our team next year, then you're really doing something that's not very smart,” Showalter said.

Walker had a breakthrough year this season, hitting .288/.357/.489 between Double-A Bowie and Norfolk. He hit 20 homers and had 77 RBIs with the Baysox before receiving a promotion to Triple-A in July.

Rotation plans

Right-hander Bud Norris will start Wednesday's series finale against the Blue Jays and right-hander Kevin Gausman will start Friday's series opener against the Red Sox following the club's off day, Showalter said Saturday.

Norris is 3-0 with a 2.16 ERA against the Blue Jays this season. Gausman is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five games (two starts) in his career against the Red Sox. Gausman is 3-3 with a 4.71 ERA when receiving six or more days' rest

Norris (seven innings) and Gausman (seven innings) combined to throw 14 shutout innings in the Orioles' doubleheader sweep of the Yankees on Friday.

Around the horn

With his two-hit day on Saturday, RF Nick Markakis recorded his 50th multihit game this season, giving him six seasons of 50 multihit games, tying him with 1B Eddie Murray for the franchise record. … LF Alejandro De Aza, who was hitless in four at bats Saturday, had his eight-game hit streak to open his Orioles career broken. … Five of 3B Jimmy Paredes' last 10 hits have been for extra bases. He is hitting .385/.407/.654 (10-for-26) since Aug. 30.

eencina@baltsun.com

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