Ismel Jimenez: We Underestimated the Caribbean Series

Elsa Ramos

Ismel Jimenez did not return with the glory of victory, but he describes his participation in the Caribbean Series as a privilege, for being the first player in his province ever to be present in such tournaments.

He needs to thank Villa Clara baseball club which took him as reinforcement for the second phase of the 52nd Cuban National Series, and then for the regional event. Besides, Trinidad’s son strongly believes he can survive the worst of his nine seasons.

Escambray “catches” the hurler’s throws, who grasps the best from every experience.

“It was the best thing that ever happened to me, even more than the Classic (WBC). Sancti Spiritus has had great players but I was the first to attend”

Satisfied without victories?

I had little opportunity, my first outing wasn’t good, but the second wasn’t that bad. I complicated things with my failed throw to second base…It had nothing to do with the concentration, but with the grip of the ball.

What happened then?

We all lacked contrast when it came to use our velocity, and good control also. Batters from those teams have great swing acceleration, they hardly go after the bad throws, and those kinds of players here in Cuba do not count as many. The first day we tried with our fastest balls and we couldn’t make it, so it affected us.

Did you underestimate the tourney?

We thought it would be a weaker tournament, of inferior quality; we went there without knowing any team. In my case I didn’t know how to work the different players, that’s why people are trying to get us abroad, so we can get use to that. Anyway, I think Cuba is respected regardless of the result. In my opinion Venezuelans did not play Puerto Ricans as expected to avoid us.

This season you have not been the same Ismel….

I’ve had crisis with my back, I keep myself medicating for that reason, though I’ve learned to live with it; however, I feel good physically, I’ve reached more than 90 miles, and in the Caribbean Series I made it to 94.

Nevertheless, you were hit. Did your slider become too predictable?

My slider works the same way. I just lack contrast in my throws, but I’m happy with myself, even if you don’t understand me…

Well, it is hard to understand it

Look, I haven’t obtained the results I wanted, but I feel good and fast, maybe I forgot to mix my throws. Odelin was a teacher for us, he didn’t reach the 90 miles and he managed to beat a great team; I still have to learn a lot, maybe when I’m his age.

Do we have to wait that long? How the defeats affect you?

It’s just a way of saying things, experience comes with the years. I need to be honest: the losses have gotten into me because I’m not use to so many defeats. Anyway I have to keep on track of my historical figures which continue to be good.

More really trusts you because he has chosen you twice as reinforcement.

I have to thank him for trusting me, especially this season when almost no one has done it. For him, it is the man, not the athlete, the one who counts. I’m glad my new team is Villa Clara. I’m close to my province and it’s easier for me.

How do you fit in such a different style when compared to los Gallos’ (Roosters)?

When I was on the opposite side of the box, they didn’t strike me as a good team, but now I think differently; I can see that it’s a great squad, very courageous and complete. Players don’t let you get disappointed, they always cheer you up. Everyone knows their role and focus on a common goal. I feel like born toVilla Clara, even from the support of the fans. Authorities have also helped us in every sense, it’s been a nice experience and I’m glad to share it.

Many people think that what happened in the Caribbean Series will get into Villa Clara.

I don’t think so, this team fights till the end. They already know what it feels to be champions and they will go for it again. I’ve always wanted to be crowned with Sancti Spiritus, but if that can’t happen, who knows if this is my year?

You confessed to be enemy of reinforcements. Have you changed your mind?

I’m still an enemy but I give my all for that team. I stand for my small territory, my uniform…I see myself on television or in the mirror with Villa Clara’s t-shirt and I still feel weird.

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