Jimenez meets the press

SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles introduced pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez at a 9:30 a.m. press conference today, the right-hander flanked by manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president Dan Duquette.

Agent Fernando Cuza also was in attendance.

Here’s a sampling:

jimenez-duquette-tall.jpgDuquette on Jimenez:

“Overall, if you take a look at his body of work, he’s one of the top 10 pitchers in the league over the course of his career. We’re happy to have his leadership on our pitching staff. He’s at the point of his career where he can provide leadership in innings and stability to our ballclub, and we’re glad to have him.”

Jimenez’s opening statement:

“Good morning everyone. First I want to thank God for this opportunity today, and my family who’s been with me through the good times and the tough times. The other thing is to thank the owners of the Baltimore Orioles, Peter Angelos and Dan Duquette and the manager, Buck (Showalter), for giving me the confidence. I know it took a lot for them to bring me here. I’m really excited to be here. The only way to pay them back is to go out every five days and get the best out of me and just be there for the team, giving me the opportunity.

“I’m very excited. We’re here for one thing, and that’s bringing a championship to the city of Baltimore. I want to thank everyone, starting with the owner, Dan and Buck, and everyone that made it possible for me to be here today. I want to do everything possible to go out there and compete and give the team a chance to win. I know it’s a tough division, but I like the challenge. It’s not going to be easy, but I’m very prepared for that. I’m excited to be in Baltimore, and I’m going to do everything possible to meet the challenge.”

Jimenez on why he signed with the Orioles:

The first day that I met Dan, I met with Dave Wallace and Lee Thomas. Right there I knew. They’re really humble, really down-to-earth guys and I knew it was going to be special to be in this organization. Right there, I was like, pretty much, this is the team I want to be with. It’s going to be a big part of my future for me and my family. The city is great and they have a competitive team. Those guys in the clubhouse look like they are great guys. .. I’m going to have a big opportunity to play for them for Dave Wallace and Buck. They are people who know a lot about baseball. They’ve been manager and pitching coach for a long time, so they have a lot of passion for the game. That’s something you want to be a part of.”

Jimenez on how he can maintain his second-half roll:

“Those two years (before 2013) were a nightmare, but they’re in the past. As a player, I just have to forget about it and I look forward to the future. I had a great second half last year and that’s what I’m going to take. I’m going to be prepared and I know that I have the confidence to go out there. And knowing that I’m healthy and I’m going to be able to compete every five days.”

Jimenez on difficulty in waiting so late to sign:

“It is very difficult to wait. I know I’m not the only one who had headaches. Probably Dan and my agent. Those guys worked really hard. It wasn’t easy. It’s never easy to be waiting that long. I love baseball too much and I just want to be out there with my team. That’s what was on my mind. I just wanted an opportunity to get everything done. I don’t want to wait too long.”

Jimenez on taking a leadership role on the staff:

“Yeah, that’s something I’ve been doing since I was in Colorado. I know I was young back then, but that’s what I put in my mind. I just want to go out there and compete and lead by example. It’s not that I’m going to be telling everyone what to do or anything like that. These guys are in the big leagues, they’ve been playing baseball for a long time. They really know what they need to do in order to compete. But for me, that’s something I put in my mind. I want to be out there, I want to take the ball every five days and give everything I’ve got and lead by example.”

jimenez-jersey-showalter-duquette-intro-sidebar.jpgDuquette on why the Orioles chose Jimenez:

“I think the most important thing about Ubaldo is that he goes to the post and he’s been a proven, solid, dependable pitcher. And if you look in the book, you can’t find very many pitchers to take over 30 starts six years in a row like he has.

“In 2012, he had an injury to his ankle and he was not at the top of his game, but he was out there pitching for the club and he didn’t get the kind of results he had gotten at other times in his career. But there was a reason for it. He had an issue with his ankle. But when you talk about leadership and the leadership of a pitching staff to me is the front end of the rotation starters who pitch innings and Ubaldo has been a workhorse over the course of his career.

“I do want to thank Fernando Cuza and Diego Benz for their role in the process in helping bring Ubaldo to Baltimore. Fernando represented the Martinez brothers and he saw how Dave Wallace worked very efficiently with Ramon and Pedro Martinez, but particularly Ramon, who is built very similar to Ubaldo and has a very similar delivery and an excellent change up. I think Fernando saw the opportunity for Ubaldo working with Dave making the same kind of adjustments that Ramon made later in his career. And Mr. (Peter) Angelos deserves a lot of credit for investing in a pitcher on a four-year basis and the comfort level of Ubaldo going to the post for 30 starts a year had a lot to do with that.”

Jimenez on impact of ankle injury:

“That was part of it, because I couldn’t repeat my mechanics and I couldn’t push off the mound, but something that I put in my mind was that like I had to be out there and I had to compete with whatever I had. In a way, that just messed up my mechanics. I wasn’t able to repeat it every time.”

Duquette on whether ownership is sending a message by spending more money on pitching:

“We were looking to add some veteran pitching to our pitching staff and we were able to do that this week with the signings of (Suk-min) Yoon from Korea, who is a nine-year veteran, and Ubaldo, who is a seven-year veteran. They’re both quality dependable pitchers who started early in their career and are proven pros. We said all along that was on our shopping list to add. It just took a little while to get the deals done. We did get a couple of starting pitchers and we think that will be helpful and be additive to our staff.”

Jimenez on his contract:

“I know it’s a lot of money, but it doesn’t matter how much money I got before. I just put enough pressure on me to go out there and do the best that I could every five days. But I know what you mean. That definitely is a lot of money. I’m just going to go out there and show everything I have. I’m not going to be trying to do too much because then it’s going to mess everything up. I have to be who I am. I can’t be thinking about doing too much. I just have to go out there doing what I am.”

jimenez-showalter-duquette-intro-presser.jpgShowalter on the camp competition for starting spots:

“Well, I think for this purpose here, Ubaldo’s going to make the pitching staff (laughter). He’s got a good shot at it. But those things have a way of working themselves out. We’re not at that stage in spring. I think each year that I’ve been here, the decisions at the end of camp have gotten tougher and tougher. I think that’s a good reflection of the players we’ve been able to acquire through a lot of different avenues. That will work itself out. I hope in a lot of ways it doesn’t and we’re sitting here with a surplus of quality pitchers, because that bodes real well for the Baltimore Orioles.

“As far as who’s the one starter and two starter and three starter, you’ve heard me say many times, whoever is pitching that night is our No. 1 starter. We’re not going to hang that around somebody. With off-days and everything, always matching up against certain guys. We just want to consistently present challenges to the other team with all five of our starters. Ubaldo can’t pitch every day, but he can impact our club by the outings he has on the other four days. He’s somebody we targeted very early in the process. And the one thing that, just because God delayed it, He doesn’t deny. Not to say this was heavenly sent, but we’ll see. He’s worth waiting on, and we’re glad at the end of the day that he’s here wearing the uniform that he should be.”

Duquette met with a group of reporters following the press conference. He confirmed that he’s still checking the market for designated hitters. He also talked about fan reaction over the winter and the perception that the window to contend is closing.

Here’s a sampling:

On whether it was a long offseason?

“It took a lot of patience by the fans and a lot of patience by us to add veteran starting pitchers, but this is a robust market for the veteran starting pitchers. Every starting pitcher that we were in on, there were four or five other clubs also in on that pitcher, actively trying to sign him with good offers. So, we were glad to get a quality starting pitcher in Jimenez and add him to our ballclub at this stage of his career. We think he’ll be a pretty solid addition for us.”

On the chances of adding another hitter:

“I wouldn’t handicap that. I can tell you we’re happy we were able to sign Yoon. We’ll be able to take a look at him. His proven experience and pitching will be an asset to the team. He was the youngest starting pitcher available on the market and Jimenez was one of the most dependable starting pitchers on the market, so we think between the two of them we’ll get some quality innings for our pitching staff.

“We can continue to look, from the players we have here in camp and a couple of players who are still on the market, see if there’s a fit.”

On whether it was a tough offseason:

“You mean the snow? Oh, you mean the cold.

“If we went out and we signed these players in October and November, people would be saying, ‘The Orioles are addressing their needs. They are being aggressive. They’re adding good starting pitching. They’re ramping up their team for a run at the title.’ Well, we didn’t sign them in October, but by waiting, we got contracts with these players that are good for the market, that are good for the team. People understand that we are building our team and ramping it up to be a contending team this season.”

On the importance of giving Jimenez a fourth year:

“The fourth year was a big step for the Orioles, but in light of Ubaldo’s dependability and his age, I think it was the right recommendation to invest in that fourth year for Ubaldo. I think we’ll be able to get a couple of very good years from him over the course of the contract.”

On losing draft picks:

“You know, it’s always a consideration. Getting the dependable starting pitcher is very important. Really, what we’ve done is we traded our 35th pick for (Bud) Norris, who won 10 games last year, and we gave up our first pick this year for Ubaldo, who won 13 games last year. We made that conscious choice to put those resources into our current team on the starting pitching staff and that’s what we felt we had to do to stabilize our team and be competitive in the AL East.”

On whether the Orioles are sending a ‘win now’ message to fans:

“We want to contend every year, but we made some conscious choices to put the resources into our pitching staff for this year. We like the core of our team. We like our core players. They’re at the stage in their careers where they should continue to have good, solid years and we hope we built our pitching staff properly.”

On whether money spent changes negotiations with J.J. Hardy, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters:

“We want to have a competitive team year in and year out and we’re going to do whatever we have to do to accomplish that. As far as the core players, we’ve made it clear that we want to sign the core players - the good, dependable players - to stay with the club. With that being said, we have to stay within the resources of the team and the market.”

On whether the second-round pick doesn’t matter as much anymore:

“Our expansion of our scouting on the international market and the additions and signings of Carlos Diaz, the first baseman we picked up from from Mexico City, and Jomar Reyes, the top Dominican third baseman that we signed, I think that helps us continue to build the quality of the talent depth within our minor league system. So, there’s other avenues in signing and bringing players into the organization other than just the draft. Now, do we want to be giving up all our draft picks every year? No, that’s not something we want to be doing long-term. But we made a conscious choice to do that this year to put the resources into our pitching staff with the core. We thought that was the right choice to make. Are we going to continue to be aggressive on international scouting? Yes we are. And we’re going to be aggressive not just on the amateur market, but also on the professional market in bringing in players like Yoon, who can help our club.”

On whether that pick would specifically preclude them from making another move in free agency:

“Every draft pick has a specific value and we take into consideration that specific value before we part with the draft pick. and we did that in this case and we would do that on a case-by-case basis.”

On whether the window to contend is closing:

“We want to have a good team every year. We have some good established players here that should be in the prime years of their careers, so I understand what people say, but the opportunity is there to have a contending team and we feel we have do this.”

Here’s video of Jimenez putting on his new jersey at the introductory presser:

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