He makes me think of the kids that are outside right now on dusty Dominican ballfields only dreaming of what he has done. Last year at this time, right-hander Ubaldo Jiminez inked the largest contract ever given to a free agent pitcher in Orioles history; $50 million over four years. Just wrap your mind around those words for one moment. Fifty. Million. Dollars. Fifty million dollars to find himself finishing the 2014 season with his new team at 6-9 with a 4.81 ERA, a lost spot in the rotation, an ankle sprained by an errant flip flop and his name left off the American League Championship Series roster. Oh how quickly, how inexplicably baseball dreams can turn to nightmares.
With three years left on that monster contract, the Orioles have to squeeze something out of Ubaldo in 2015. Can he return to his 2010 All-Star form where he threw the first no-hitter in the history of the Colorado Rockies and held the franchise record for 33 straight scoreless innings? Can the Orioles rekindle the magic to be found somewhere inside that quirky delivery?
I am as nervous and anxious watching Ubaldo on the mound as I am my own son. Wanting so desperately for them to succeed threatens to jinx them. So, I’ll guarantee just one thing about the upcoming season. Statistics show that they will both be wearing really cool sunglasses.
Orioles pitchers and catchers prepare to report to Spring Training in Sarasota next Thursday, February 19.
*My son and Ubaldo Jiminez – June 27, 2014 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, MD