LHP Cesar Jimenez (Photo/Seattle Mariners)
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – You’ve waited all season for it, now here it is: a feature on Missions reliever Cesar Jimenez! We know what you crave, you diehard ITPers. Your patience is rewarded.
Fresh off the disabled list, Jimenez has been holding down the fort the second half, as the Missions waved goodbye to the best of their staff. It has been up to the southpaw from Venezuela to keep the ship afloat.
“I just want to use the confidence I’ve gained in Triple-A to pitch well here and hopefully get another shot later,” said Jimenez, who was hit hard during a stint with Tacoma in July before going on the disabled list. “I”m just happy to be throwing again.”
Jimenez has posted decent numbers in San Antonio, though it hasn’t been his best year statistically. Still, he is 2-5 with a 3.35 ERA and has a strikeout-to-walk ratio (40:17) that further reveals a job well done.
That was not the case in Tacoma. In 7.2 innings, Jimenez had a 9.39 ERA after giving up eight runs in four games.
“In Triple-A the guys are more experienced,” said Jimenez. “If the pitcher makes a mistake, the batter never misses. “I made some mistakes while I was with the Rainiers, but I would love to have the opportunity to pitch there again.”
Jimenez, a lefty who throws a 90 mph fastball, remains one of the top relief pitching prospects in the Mariners’ farm system. He also throws a curve ball, fastball, change-up and slider.
“I like my change-up as my out pitch,” Jimenez said. “I’ve been using my slider more as well. I’ve practiced with it a lot lately, and now have more confidence in it.”
This year’s numbers further impress when one considers Jimenez has come off the disabled list multiple times.
“It doesn’t really bother me much at all,” Jimenez said of his injuries this season. “That’s what baseball is about.”
In the past Jimenez was used more in the rotation. In 2002, with Seattle’s Venezuelan League club, he went 7-1 with a 0.83 ERA in 11 starts. With Wisconsin a year later, Jimenez started 20 of 28 games in route to an 8-11 record and 2.94 ERA.
But recently Jimenez has had his role change, whether by choice or not, and focused his efforts on relief pitching. Since the 2004 season at Inland Empire, he has started just three of 82 games. His most recent outing was, in fact, his first start at Double-A.
On Aug. 3 in San Antonio, Jimenez opened the game against the Corpus Christi Hooks, but he certainly did not finish it. He lasted just three frames, allowing three runs and five hits, including a home run.
Now Jimenez must face the task at hand: reliever in the Seattle Mariners’ system. And that’s something he’s more than okay with, as he has pitched well in that role during his career.
“There are good points about both,” he said. “A starter can focus more, getting ready to go every five days. But I like being a reliever right now. It’s a quicker way to the big leagues. Whatever Seattle wants me to do is fine, but do I like coming out of the pen.”