Be prepared: Jimenez may start Thursday at Minnesota - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

Be prepared: Jimenez may start Thursday at Minnesota

Not a whole lot from Orioles manager Buck Showalter’s pre-game conference Tuesday, but there was one thing that I found particularly interesting.

The initial assumption was that Kevin Gausman would start the one-game, make-up trip to Minnesota on Thursday. But Orioles manager Buck Showalter threw a curve to the media Monday.

He said he hasn’t decided who will pitch that game, and mentioned that he would like to give his staff – including Gausman – an extra day’s rest if possible.

And Showalter threw out one possible name to make that start: Ubaldo Jimenez.

The beleaguered veteran right-hander will return from paternity leave Tuesday. He has not pitched since July 8, when he gave up five runs in a start that lasted 1 1/3 innings. He was put in the bullpen, and hasn’t been used since. For the season, he is 5-9 with a 7.38 ERA in 18 games (17 starts).

He’s been the subject of trade rumors – with the most notable one being with San Diego, in which the Orioles would give up Jimenez and a prospect for outfielder Melvin Upton Jr., in what would be a swap of undesirable contracts.

But now it looks like Jimenez could get the nod Thursday against the Twins, the team with the worst record currently in the AL.

Jimenez has been great in his career against the Twins (5-3 with a 2.55 ERA in 10 games) and particularly impressive at Target Field (4-1, 1.82 ERA in six games). Showalter, in particular, is a big believer in how a pitcher performs in a given stadium.

So giving him a spot start Thursday makes sense on several levels. It gets him back into the action. It gives rest to the rotation, which will line up better for a key series at Toronto.

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And, if Jimenez pitches well, it may give a little boost to his minuscule trade value with the non-waiver trade deadline approaching Monday.

So, for all you Jimenez bashers, consider this a warning.

Ubaldo could be back starting for the Orioles on Thursday.

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