Alfredo Simon’s offseason this year was a bit less crazy than last year’s—to say the least.Simon, a right-handed pitcher for the O’s, was accused of murder and aggravated assault in January 2011 in his native Dominican Republic. He was jailed for months, but managed to post bail in March. His legal troubles hung over his head all season. He was found not guilty of the crimes in November, and he is at last free to concentrate on baseball.
“This year is going to be a good year because I don’t have a lot of things on my mind, my mind is clear,” he said at FanFest. “All the trouble I’ve had is over and I want to help the team win games this year.”
He is genuinely excited about this year and what he can bring to the Orioles.
Over the course of his four years with the Orioles, he has both started and relieved. During the 2010 season he was used primarily as a reliever, posting a 4-2 record with 17 saves in 21 opportunities.
But the Orioles’ starting rotation had problems of their own with injuries and overall ineffectiveness in 2011. Simon got a chance to start 16 games, posting a record of 4-9 with a 4.90 ERA.
What does Simon prefer, starting or relieving? Like most pitchers, he sees himself as a starter.
“I would rather be a starter, because all of my pitches are good. I have stuff to be a starter and win a lot of games. I know last year I came late and started in the bullpen, but I just come back to be a starter and see what happens this year,” he says.
Alfredo seems to be in good shape, and said he felt good and has been working out a lot this winter.
He has also been working on his slider this winter, and he feels confident he will be throwing nasty stuff in time for Opening Day.
Incredibly, for someone whose personal life was so chaotic, Simon actually improved his control on the mound in 2011. During the 2010 season Simon struck out 37 batters and walked 22 in 49.1 innings pitched. His 2011 numbers were better, as he struck out 83 hitters while walking 40 in 115.2 innings pitched. His WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) also improved, going from 1.54 in 2010 to 1.45 in 2011.
When on his game, Simon has great stuff. Just ask the Minnesota Twins, who flailed away at Simon’s offerings in a game on August 23, managing only one earned run and racking up eight strikeouts.
Buck Showalter is hinting at fierce competition for the starting rotation in 2012. If Simon can have a strong spring and stay on his game, he definitely has the stuff to get a spot as a starter. If not, he is a great arm coming out of the bullpen.
by Andy Mindzak