SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy is 4-for-10 with a home run lifetime against Ubaldo Jimenez. Sounds like he’s got a pretty good read on the veteran right-hander, but that’s not necessarily the case.
Listen to Hardy talk about Jimenez, his new teammate, and it’s apparent that numbers don’t tell the entire story.
“I don’t remember what years it was that I was facing him when he was with Colorado and I was with Milwaukee, but he was 98, 99, sometimes 100 (mph). Sink, nasty,” Hardy said this morning.
“Last year, 92-94 (mph), still kind of really uncomfortable, just by the way he throws. It’s so much different than everyone else, so it’s not a comfortable at-bat. And he was good. I don’t know how he spots up like he does with all those (motions), but it makes it tough to hit, for sure.”
Jimenez posted a 4.56 ERA in the first half last season with the Indians, and a 1.82 ERA in the second half. He went 4-0 with a 1.09 ERA in six September outings.
He didn’t wilt in the heat of a pennant race. He flourished.
“Second half, when it mattered for them, when they were going down the stretch,” Hardy said. “That shows you something there. But like I said, it’s not a comfortable at-bat. It’s different facing him. If he’s throwing strikes, it’s tough to do anything against him.”
Manager Buck Showalter mentioned yesterday that the Orioles’ workout may have been their sharpest since he’s been here. He noted the energy, the added excitement, that could be tied to the Jimenez signing.
“There’s definitely excitement,” Hardy said. “I’ve been saying all along I felt like we didn’t make any moves this offseason because we felt like we had a good team already. And we have. The last two years, we’ve pretty much got the same team - same offense, defense, all that stuff. But I was also saying, if they made a move and it made us better, then I think every one of us in this clubhouse would be all for it. And this is one of those moves.
“It’s just nice to see that we’re still trying to get better.”
Executive vice president Dan Duquette could boost the lineup by signing a designated hitter. And according to CBSSports.com, the Orioles remain in contact with the agent for right-hander Ervin Santana, though they seem to be flush with starters.
Update: I’m told that the Orioles aren’t in on Santana. They’re not looking to add another big free agent contract to the rotation.
There may have been recent dialogue, but a source said it’s “not happening.”
Update II: I’ve now talked to three people familiar with the Orioles’ negotiations who say the club isn’t in on Santana.