Ubaldo Jimenz joins the Orioles, pictures and transcript
It was shortly after 9:30 a.m. today when Ubaldo Jimenez walked into the media room, converted into a press conference, joined by agent Fern Cuza, Orioles manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette. Jimenez, who signed a four-year, $50-million contract with Baltimore, is one of the biggest signings in organizational history and Duquette started the press conference off with the following statement…
“The Orioles are proud to announce they’ve agreed to terms and signed right-handed pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez to a four-year contract. Ubaldo is a proven, reliable, dependable starting pitcher. He has shown excellent on the pitching staffs that he has led in Colorado and Cleveland. He’s started over 30 games six years in a row. When he’s at the top of his game, he’s one of the top pitchers in baseball, and last year, in the second half of the season, he was one of the top pitchers in the American League. He led Cleveland to the playoffs. He won 19 games in 2010, 15 games in 2009 and 13 last year.
“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 spoke after that, electing to say a few words before reporters jumped in with questions. Here is what he said…
“Good morning everyone. First I want to thank God for this opportunity today, 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 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.”
On why he chose Baltimore, Jimenez said he had a feeling the first day he sat down with Duquette, special assistant Lee Thomas and pitching coach Dave Wallace.
On how he maintain mindset that made him so good 2nd half last year: “Those two years 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.”
On how difficult it was waiting that long 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.”
On taking on a leadership role: “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.”
Duquette on choosing Ubaldo over other free agents: “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. 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 if the ankle was a big difference between ’12 and ’13: “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.”
Jimenez on the pressure of living up to that big 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’s 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.”