Jose Lima was the surprise in the Dodgers’ playoff run last season. A spring training non-roster invitee who eventually became a fixture in the rotation.
Who wore his emotions on his chest, which he beat with regularity. If it was wile or determination or luck or Dominican magic, Lima went 13-5 with the Dodgers and then pitched a memorable shutout against the Cardinals in the playoffs.
“It was probably the best six months of my career,” he said.
The victory against St. Louis was the Dodgers’ only win in the postseason. Their first playoff victory since 1988.
“Sixteen years,” he said. “Sixteen years and I don’t get even one phone call?”
Yep, we’re there again. Back to that constant phone problem of the Dodgers.
General manager Paul DePodesta may have a great vision for the Dodgers. May have a remarkable plan in the works most are slow in appreciating.
But he clearly has a problem communicating. Of picking up the phone at some point and letting the player, coach, manager, broadcaster, know exactly what is up.
But like so many others this offseason, there never came a call from DePodesta — or anyone else from the Dodgers.
“Nothing. Zero,” he said. “Not even from the clubby. Where’s Lima?”
Lima made less than a million for the Dodgers last season, making him the bargain of the year.
If he wasn’t pitching with, er, enthusiasm, he was cheerleading from the dugout or singing the national anthem or imploring the crowd to scream just a little louder. He was all energy, all passion, all the time.
Some may have cast a skeptical eye at his act, but Lima was consistent in approach and demeanor.
“I’m not a fake,” he said. “What you see is what you get every day.”
Mostly, the fans seemed to embrace him. Reacted to him. Made him the flashpoint for the playoff run.
Yet the Dodgers clearly decided he was not in their future.
Maybe they figured with his history of arm problems and at age 32, it just wasn’t the wise move to make. That they had caught magic in a bottle once with Lima, and that was it.
That they were unwilling to offer him arbitration and risk an annual salary in the $3 million range for someone they feared might break down at any time.
If so, he deserved a simple explanation. One “Thanks for everything, but we’re going in a different direction.”
Lima was signed by Dan Evans before he was fired and replaced by DePodesta. Lima was an Evans man, and these Dodgers are clearly being remade in DePodesta’s vision.
“It’s a business, I understand,” Lima said.
“I’m just disappointed I didn’t get a call, that’s all. It hurts. I won the biggest game of the year and gave them a chance to play another game, and I don’t get a phone call?
“I pitched my heart out. I bring fans to the stadium. I wasn’t asking for a fortune, only to be paid for what I did.”
Lima signed with the Royals for a second stint for one year at $2.5 million.
“The money (the Dodgers) made from those two playoff games, they could pay me,” he said.
“I’m disappointed. I am. Big time.”
Making it worse, Lima said a high-ranking Dodgers official made a profane remark about him to fans during an offseason banquet.
“I know it for a fact,” he said.
Lima shook his head. He may be moving on, but he remains mystified that he is.
“I’ve always been a great teammate,” he said. “I don’t cause trouble. I don’t know what happened.”
If Lima’s claims are true, there really is no excuse for Paul DePodesta not giving him a ring. Because after all, you can’t get herpes over the phone. Just ask Ron Mexico.
But seriously, if you’ve seen Scott Erickson (above) get knocked around by the Diamondbacks tonight, it is hard to fathom how the Dodgers couldn’t have used Lima in their rotation. Unless they thought Erickson was less likely to spread herpes around the clubhouse. Granted, Lima didn’t have much more success than Erickson in the former’s start against the Angels tonight, but at least Jose has shown the ability to win games during the current century.