The 30-year-old journeyman from Venezuela got his first at-bat in the major leagues on Tuesday.
Luis Jimenez was watching videos of Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey in the clubhouse Tuesday night when Mariners bench coach Robby Thompson ran in and told him, “Hey, Luis, you’re leading off!”
Jimenez, 30, didn’t have time to think about the 13 years he had waited for the moment. He just ran out to home plate, stepped in against Bailey as a ninth-inning pinch-hitter and promptly hit a sky-high pop out.
The result wasn’t exactly Hollywood, but the moment capped a long journey that began in 1999 when the Oakland Athletics signed him out of Venezuela at age 16. Jimenez was rewarded for a strong Class AAA season this year with a September call-up by the Mariners and now has his first big-league appearance in the books.
“After the AB, I started shaking,” he said. “I started to get nervous and everything. But that’s a very good feeling. I was just proud of myself because I made it. Now, I’ll start working on staying here.”
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About the only downside to the evening was that his parents, Maria and Antonio, who are visiting him in Tacoma, couldn’t be at the game as expected.
“They were in Tacoma because nobody could go pick them up and they can’t drive,” he said. “That’s OK, it’s part of the sacrifice.”
Jimenez said arrangements had been made to have his parents attend Wednesday’s game.
• Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders completed a pregame set of agility and running drills Wednesday and is expected to play on Friday night against Oakland. Saunders missed a week of action with a groin strain, then lasted only three innings upon his return last Friday when he felt his leg tighten after making a running catch.
• Franklin Gutierrez got the night off on Wednesday after his groin tightened up on him after a catch the night before.