One week and one day after being removed from the Orioles rotation, veteran right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez will start for the club again – this time Wednesday against the San Diego Padres.
With a rotation spot opening created by Friday’s demotion of Mike Wright to Triple-A Norfolk, the Orioles appeared to be choosing among Jimenez, who has a 7.34 ERA in 65 innings this season; Odrisamer Despaigne, who was recalled last week from Norfolk; and Wright, who only could be brought back Wednesday if he were replacing an injured player.
Despaigne, however, was used in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s 10-7 loss to the Padres to relieve closer Zach Britton, and the Orioles hadn’t decided by late Tuesday night whether lefty Brian Duensing (elbow) needed to go on the disabled list, which would have created the avenue for Wright’s return.
So, instead, Jimenez will start versus the Padres. He is 7-4 with a 3.94 ERA in 13 career games against San Diego. He hasn’t pitched since Friday, when he gave up five runs in 2 1/3 innings in relief.
“It’s four days off. He’s rested and ready to go,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “I was hoping to stay away from Despaigne (on Tuesday), but didn’t want to leave Zach out there and get in a position where he couldn’t pitch (Wednesday).
Duensing ultimately is expected to head to the disabled list, but that hadn’t been officially decided by late Tuesday.
“We were waiting to see if Duensing is DL-able, then we can bring back someone before the 10 days (required after a demotion). And we feel like that is where (Duensing) will eventually end up, but we are not sure,” Showalter said. “That’s not to say we won’t bring somebody (Wednesday) that’s within the 10-day window. We are not done yet. Believe me, we are going to have to do something.”
Jimenez was not in the clubhouse after Tuesday’s game, but he has always maintained a desire to start – something he has done in 278 of his 283 big-league games.
This is the second time in his Orioles’ career that he has been lifted from the rotation — it also occurred in 2014 – but this time he has returned much quicker than anticipated.
A roster move is expected regardless since the Orioles don’t have a fresh long reliever available and Jimenez has struggled to go deep into games much of the year.
This is not ideal, of course. Jimenez wasn’t supposed to return until he’s worked things out and can be a productive member of the rotation.
But the Orioles’ lack of quality starting options now has them in this position.