Here’s the good news: Ubaldo Jimenez became the first Orioles starter to go at least four innings in the spring, when he lasted 4 2/3 Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
He allowed just two hits, and struck out five while throwing 75 pitches – a very solid number for this time of year. He was charged with three runs, but two scored after he left the game.
“Good,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Jimenez. “Got him to the 75-pitch-ish mark. That’s big this early to get there in almost five innings. It’s good. Some wind-blown balls, a tough day (to pitch).”
Now, the bad news: Jimenez walked five batters in the outing – against mainly second-tier players for the Pirates.
Battling his control is always an issue for Jimenez, we all know that. But his explanation for his hiccup Wednesday made some sense. He said he was having trouble locating his split-fingered fastball, but he kept throwing it when he was behind in the count because it’s an important pitch for him and he wants to use it to get outs in regular-season games.
If he didn’t have control of it a game that meant something, Jimenez probably wouldn’t have used it when behind in the count.
“I was able to throw my curve. My slider was good, but I still need to get my split [going], especially like [on a] 3-2 pitch,” he said. “That’s something I need to do in those situations.”
Alvarez hitless in first game
Here’s what you need to know about Pedro Alvarez after his first game with the Orioles in 2017.
He played. That’s really the extent of it.
Alvarez, acting as the DH, was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. He popped up a ball and struck one well that ended as a fly out to right. He hadn’t played in a game since last September.
“He had a couple pretty good swings, I was surprised,” Showalter said. “We talked about it. He wanted to come over, good spot for him. I’ll play him again in the B games and see where he is.”
Alvarez will have a day off and then play right field in Friday’s seven-inning B game. He appears to be ticketed for Triple-A Norfolk unless an injury occurs to a member of the expected 25-man roster.
The WBC Pirates
The Orioles sort of faced the Pirates in Bradenton on Wednesday. Normally, teams in the Grapefruit League play most of their regulars at home and then take just a few recognizable names on the road.
But the Pirates didn’t have that luxury Wednesday at home. Shortstop Jordy Mercer was the only projected regular in the Pirates’ lineup. First baseman Josh Bell is hurt, third baseman Jung Ho Kang is on the restricted list and just about every other Pirate starter is on loan to WBC teams, including Pittsburgh’s entire starting outfield: Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte.