Baseball / Sports

Orioles send Ubaldo Jimenez to bullpen

CHICAGO -- Struggling Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez will be sent to the bullpen for the time being, manager Buck Showalter announced before Tuesday's game against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.

Showalter announced his rotation through Monday, and Jimenez wasn't among the starters. He will be available out of the bullpen starting Wednesday.

Jimenez was told he was being moved to a relief role before Tuesday's game by Showalter, pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti.

Signed to a four-year, $50 million contract in February, Jimenez has struggled to a 4-9 record and a 4.83 ERA in 20 starts this season. With right-hander Miguel Gonzalez returning this weekend from a brief stint in the minor leagues, the Orioles had to make a decision on whether to keep Jimenez in the rotation.

"Sure, it was (a difficult discussion), but you have your reasons," Showalter said. "He doesn't have to agree with them, but he's been a great teammate, a great professional. He's got a good heart, and he wants to do well. It's not like he's pitched poorly all year.

"It's just with what, 39 games left, let's see how Gonzo does. We don't have any limitations now on anybody, so there'll be a need that Ubaldo can serve this team. It could be as a starter, and it could be as a reliever, but right now, for the next five games, six if you count Tillman, we know where we're going."

In two starts since returning from the disabled list, Jimenez had a 7.84 ERA. He gave up six runs in 4 1/3 innings in his last start, Saturday against the Cleveland Indians.

Of his 232 career major league appearances, just one has come in relief -- a scoreless inning in his major league debut Sept. 26, 2006 -- so going to the bullpen will be a transition for Jimenez.

"It will be (an adjustment)," Showalter said. "I don't think anybody can sit here and answer (how it will go). You never know. I know he will embrace it as the need of the club it is. But a lot (depends on) whether we go with 13 pitchers or 12 and how that all works out. He's healthy, he feels good. One of the reasons why when we looked at him, he was one of the few guys who really seems like his health, knock on wood, wasn't going to be a factor.

"Hopefully we can get him back a little bit to pitching like he has at times this year. It's going to be tough because you're not going to sit there and take a lot of work days. That's a very valuable job that he's going to have to do something every now and then."

Right-hander Bud Norris will start Saturday against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, followed by Gonzalez on Sunday in the series finale and Chris Tillman on Monday at home against the Tampa Bay Rays.

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