Today’s game, Ubaldo Jimenez and Jimmy Paredes

SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles are playing the first of three straight home games today, baseball’s way of easing them into that killer Jupiter-Dunedin trip later in the week.

Who comes up with this schedule?

Chris Tillman makes his first start, earning a little extra rest at the beginning due to the Orioles’ deep run in the playoffs. The Phillies are starting Aaron Harang.

I’m asked daily whether the game is airing on MASN. The next one is Tuesday against the Yankees. Here’s the rest of the schedule:

* Tuesday, March 10 at 1 p.m., Yankees vs. Orioles (replay at 7 p.m.)
* Saturday, March 14 at 1 p.m., Rays vs. Orioles (replay at 7 p.m.)
* Tuesday, March 17 at 1 p.m., Twins vs. Orioles (replay at 7 p.m.)
* Wednesday, March 25 at 1 p.m., Blue Jays vs. Orioles (replay at 7 p.m.)
* Wednesday, April 1 at 7 p.m., Pirates vs. Orioles
* Friday, April 3 at 6 p.m., Braves vs. Orioles

jimenez-high-knee-white-sidebar.jpgI’m asked the same questions about Ubaldo Jimenez after each start. Why don’t the Orioles just let him go? What are they doing with him?

They’re paying him close to $39 million over the next three seasons. This isn’t the National Football League. The contract is guaranteed.

The Orioles aren’t going to cut him. They’re trying to make this work. If he isn’t one of the best five starting pitchers on opening day, he could be sent to the bullpen and given mop-up duty while continuing to work on his delivery.

It’s a terrible scenario given the size of his contract and the lack of space in the bullpen.

I’ve also been asked why the Orioles don’t trade him and take whatever they can get in return. They can’t force teams to line up for his services. The contract obviously is a hindrance. It just isn’t that simple.

Let pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti continue to work with him. Keep tweaking the delivery, making it more compact and easier to repeat. Lower the hands. Make the motion with them more fluid. And hope he gets comfortable with it real fast.

The biggest surprise in camp so far may be Jimmy Paredes, who had two more hits yesterday and is 5-for-10 this spring. He’s known more for his bat than glove, but let’s keep in mind that he’s a career .242/.279/.330 hitter in parts of four major league seasons.

What does that say about his glove?

We also should remember that Paredes batted .302/.327/.491 with four doubles, two home runs and eight RBIs in 18 games with the Orioles last season. What he’s doing in the Grapefruit League isn’t much different than what he did after the Orioles purchased his contract from the Royals in late July.

Paredes looks much better at third base this spring, and not by accident. He’s put in a lot of work to get better.

Paredes was inserted into left field in Dunedin and let a fly ball drop in front of him for a hit. Manager Buck Showalter will give him more opportunities, hoping that Paredes profiles as more than just a bat.

paredes-swing-sidebar-white.jpgIs there a position that Paredes plays well enough for Showalter?

“For an extended period of time?” Showalter asked.


“We’ll see,” Showalter replied. “He’s made some improvements at third base. He’s got great work habits. He wants it. It’s very obvious.

“Probably not yet, but it could be. He’s better this year than he was last year.”

The Orioles could be faced with a hard decision regarding Paredes, who’s out of minor league options. They’d like to get him through waivers, outright him to Triple-A Norfolk and bring him up over the summer if a need arises. But would another team claim him? And he’d have to clear again if the Orioles purchased his contract during the season and wanted to send him back down.

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