SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles have 14 pitchers throwing in the bullpen today, six more than yesterday. Dane De La Rosa, Brian Matusz and Wesley Wright are in Group 1, Oliver Drake, Steve Johnson and Chaz Roe are in Group 2, Chris Jones, Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright are in Group 3, Tim Berry, Eddie Gamboa and Rule 5 pick Jason Garcia are in Group 4, and Hunter Harvey and Rule 5 pick Logan Verrett are in Group 5.
Ubaldo Jimenez used a more compact delivery during yesterday’s session, the same one he unveiled in September.
“Felt really good,” he said this morning before taking the field for the second day of workouts. “Everything felt really smooth. Something that I did, I threw like five bullpens before I came over here, back in the Orioles’ complex in the Dominican. I went there and threw bullpens and then I threw a live batting practice to make sure when I got here my mechanics would be a little bit better. I stuck with what I was doing at the end of last year and everything feels good.”
Jimenez has lowered his hands while raising expectations following a disastrous 2014 season, when he was 6-9 with a 4.81 ERA and 1.516 WHIP in 25 games, with 77 walks in 125 1/3 innings, and lost his spot in the rotation. Not exactly a solid early return on the Orioles’ $50 million investment.
“It was all about not going over the top of my head because I was going way too far and that makes my mechanics go everywhere, so right now I’m able to simplify everything by grabbing the ball and just going straight to home plate,” Jimenez said.
Asked whether he wishes that he made the adjustment sooner, Jimenez replied, “Of course. You make a way big difference. What can we do now? The only thing we can do is to stay with it.”
Jimenez never questioned whether he should return to his old mechanics this spring.
“Not at all,” he said. “Once I saw everything was working, I was staying with it and I’m not changing anything. I’m not trying to be like, ‘Oh no, this is not my mechanics. I’m going to go back.’ No. I’m going to do everything that’s made me better.”
Jimenez didn’t sign with the Orioles last year until February, disrupting his normal preparation for the season.
“It changed everything because I didn’t prepare as I used to. I didn’t throw bullpens until I came here to spring training. I didn’t throw in a game. I didn’t throw anything,” he said.
“Every year before I come to spring training I usually throw a lot of bullpens. I throw live batting practice, I throw even in games. Last year was the only time I didn’t do that because I didn’t sign on time. That’s something that I put into my mind, too. I’m trying to make new mechanics. Every time I get on the mound, it makes it easier to forget about old mechanics.”
How will this year be different beyond his delivery?
“Hopefully, everything changes and I’m going to be able to compete better and be able to give the team a chance to win,” he said. “Last year was a disappointing year. It was a really bad year. There’s no doubt about it, but just changing my mechanics makes everything better and I’m going to be able to compete.”
Jimenez was included on the Division Series roster, but not on the Championship Series roster. He chose to go home rather than stay with the team because he need to attend to personal business.
“Yeah, it was tough because I wanted to be part of the team,” he said. “I wasn’t on the roster, and then I had to go home and had some business to take care of. Of course I want to be there, but you want to be there to play, to be there for the team. But I wasn’t on the roster.”
Note: The Orioles won their arbitration hearing with outfielder Alejandro De Aza. Executive vice president Dan Duquette just offered confirmation in the media workroom.
De Aza, acquired from the White Sox in August, will receive $5 million instead of the $5.65 million that he requested. He made $4.25 million last year.
General counsel H. Russell Smouse is now 8-0 in these hearings.