SARASOTA, Fla. - Ubaldo Jimenez has thrown three scoreless innings tonight against the Rays, escaping jams in the first and third.
Jimenez, closing the Grapefruit League portion of the Orioles’ schedule, gave up a leadoff double to Matt Joyce in the first inning before retiring the next three batters, striking out Evan Longoria to end the frame. He got three groundball outs in the second on only eight pitches, but threw 28 in the third.
Joyce reached on a two-out, two-strike bunt single against the infield shift and Ben Zobrist walked, but Jimenez picked off Joyce. He also struck out two batters in the inning.
Jimenez has thrown 49 pitches, 30 for strikes.
The Orioles gave him a 1-0 lead in the first on Nick Markakis’ leadoff single, David Lough’s double and Adam Jones’ RBI bouncer to short.
Jimenez will make his Orioles debut in the second game of the season, following opening day starter Chris Tillman.
Tillman isn’t displaying any emotion over the assignment. He almost seems bored by it, though he’s probably just masking his excitement in typical fashion.
“That’s why you like him so much,” manager Buck Showalter said earlier today. “He’s mature in that he realizes it’s just one start, but he also realizes the perception of it, the added notoriety of opening day. He knows how other people view it, but he also knows how we as a team view it.
“It’s just one of 30-something. They’re all going to be important.”
Showalter told reporters that most of his final cuts would be made on Saturday, but he stopped short of saying the 25-man roster would be set.
“I’d like to see the waiver wire, all that stuff that goes on,” he said. “Sunday at 3 o’clock, I expect to have that for sure. We had a potential thing that came up today that we decided not to do. It’s every day. We had two or three yesterday. Guys show up. You’ve got to look at it.
“It’s a tough time, this time of year, because you’ve been through the spring with everybody and created a fondness for everybody and you hate to just take somebody from another club, but if you’ve got enough information or history with them and you think it’s better, you do it.
“It’s always tough for us on the field because you’ve been through six weeks on the field with these guys. You really hate to do that. You don’t like to do that if you don’t have to, but if the right thing shows up, we’ll go there.
“We make the mistake of thinking the 25 we start with as some finality. While we all hope it is, there are some people pitching in Norfolk potentially that we’re going to like as well as somebody that’s here, but you can’t carry 28.”
Showalter is still deciding which player will bat second while Manny Machado is on the disabled list.
“I know what I’m probably going to do,” he said. “The good thing is, we don’t have egos. I don’t think to our guys that matters, especially with the guys we hope to have on the field. We’re going to try to look at the pitcher and, more importantly, the bullpen we’re facing and what we want to present that night. Some things you fluctuate.
“We’ll always make some adjustments. There are a lot of guys that are capable of hitting in a lot of spots. We’re not going to make that mistake of just saying it’s just one way here a lot of time.”
Showalter would prefer batting J.J. Hardy lower in the order. Hardy feels the same way. They’re on the same page.
“On a given night, maybe,” Showalter said. “If we feel like there’s a starter we can solve and the bullpen is going to be a challenge for us later on, you want to present a lot of problems for them. We have a chance to present some challenges for the other team in the bottom part of the order. We’d like to take advantage of it.”
Asked whether he likes his team more now than when spring training started, Showalter replied, “I liked it then. I like it now. I think everybody here regardless, we would have liked. Of course, everybody does this time of year.”