Jimenez update and a few minutes with Ripken

SARASOTA, Fla. - Ubaldo Jimenez’s second start with the Orioles looks a lot different than the first.

Jimenez threw 36 pitches in the opening inning, walking two batters and surrendering a three-run triple to Phillies left fielder Domonic Brown with two outs and the count full. Ben Revere and Freddy Galvis had back-to-back triples in the second after a leadoff walk and double play.

Jimenez threw 14 pitches in the second, upping his total to 50, while left-hander Chris Jones warmed in the bullpen. Jones was summoned from minor league camp today.

Jimenez allowed four runs and four hits, walked three and struck out none. Zach Britton replaced him in the third and retired the Phillies in order on two strikeouts and a liner to the mound.

I don’t recall seeing a team produce three triples in 1 2/3 innings, but I’m sure it’s happened.

In his debut, Jimenez retired all six batters that he faced and struck out three.

The Orioles scored a run in the second against A.J. Burnett. Chris Davis slapped a single into shallow left field against the shift, Nelson Cruz doubled and Ryan Flaherty lifted a sacrifice fly to center field.

ripken-first-pitch-sarasota-tall.jpgEarlier today, Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. threw out the ceremonial first pitch, met with reporters and signed copies of his new children’s book, “Squeeze Play.”

Here’s a sampling from Ripken, beginning with his thoughts on shortstop J.J Hardy:

“The results have been obvious. He does it without a lot of fanfare. He does it consistently. He makes all of the plays and is in the right spot all the time. And it doesn’t go unnoticed to me.

“I remember the first time I saw him at any level was when he was with Milwaukee. My eyes naturally go to when a play is developing, what are the responsibilities of the shortstop and to me he’s there. He’s always in that position. It made an impact on me. But being able to see him in an Orioles uniform gives you a chance to see him a little bit more every day and you fully start to appreciate what his presence means in the middle of that lineup, in the middle of that field. He is a very good shortstop.”

The Orioles will attempt to sign Hardy to an extension.

“Well, think about what you have now,” Ripken said. “You have one of the best shortstops in the league playing shortstop for you every day, being productive. And then you have a young kid next to him that has proved out that he can be considered one of the best third basemen (Manny Machado) in the league. So you have a great left side of the infield. Who wouldn’t want that? Now having said that, if J.J. goes down to injury or J.J. ends up moving on, it’s interesting to look at the skills set that Manny Machado brings and to project him at the position. But I’m not in the inner meetings of Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette and kind of thinking about what they’re doing. I’m saying it from a shortstop’s perspective, seeing a skills set that Manny brings and the strength of arm.

“At some point, it would be interesting to see him apply those types of skills to the position of shortstop. But if you had a choice of having those two guys for five, six more years, that’s a pretty good left side of the infield.”

Ripken was asked whether this offense could be as formidable as the 1996-97 teams.

“I never looked at it as an overall how many runs scored and how many hits. That’s for you guys to actually write about, but we did have the ability to score a lot of runs,” Ripken said. “We had people throughout the lineup that had power. And being able to score a run without having someone in scoring position is a pretty valuable asset to have.

“This lineup here, a lot of guys that can hit the ball out of the ballpark, a lot of guys who are good hitters. You have the nucleus of everyday two-way players that is pretty good. And you add (Nelson) Cruz to that lineup and the evolution of (Chris) Davis as a premier power hitter in the league positions you pretty well. And Manny Machado is just going to get better and better and start to learn his skill-set and his power, because he does possess power as you’ve seen many times. So, potentially this offense has the potential to be one of the better offenses in the league and score a lot of runs.

“What wins ultimately is your ERA and your pitching. So the potential for this team, too, to have a deep pitching staff is there, as well.”

I’ll post more from Ripken later today.

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