Veteran Dominican seeks opportunity
CAROLINA, Puerto Rico -- Jose Lima never doubts his ability to rise from the ashes and have another resurgence in baseball, as he has done several times in his career.
"There's still a lot of 'Mambo' left," Lima told ESPNdeportes.com, referring to the nickname he's known by in the Spanish-speaking world. "My arm feels better than ever, and I've shown that time and again this winter season."
Lima, the best pitcher this year on the Cibao Eagles -- champions of the Dominican winter league -- will start the first game of the Caribbean World Series for the D.R. against Venezuela's Aragua Tigers.
The veteran right-hander was 5-0 with a 1.31 ERA in five starts in the Dominican league postseason, and will face the odds-on favorite to win the series in the opener.
Lima, 34, is a 13-year major league veteran who went 0-4 with a 9.87 ERA in four starts with the New York Mets in 2006. His career has had constant ups and downs since he debuted with the Detroit Tigers in 1994.
The Dominican native won 21 games for the Houston Astros in 1999, but won just 17 more in the next three seasons. He then resurfaced in 2003 -- after starting the year in an independent league -- and won eight games at the end of that campaign. The next season he had 13 victories for the Los Angeles Dodgers, then threw a shutout in the team's only victory of the postseason, beating the eventual National League champion Cardinals.
Since then, Lima has gone 5-20 in the majors and has a lifetime record of 89-102. He arrives to the "Little World Series of the Caribbean" in Carolina, Puerto Rico, without any offers from major league clubs, and just two overtures from Mexican Summer League teams.
"It's amazing that, with the kind of winter league season I've had, I haven't been invited to anyone's spring training," said Lima. "I've still got the arm strength and confidence to get back to the majors."
Lima hopes that his performance in the Caribbean Series will be the clincher for a major league club to make him an offer.
"If nobody comes calling, I'll go to Mexico," he said. "I've got offers from Veracruz and Monterrey, and I'll go there with one of them, perhaps even before the Caribbean Series ends. I've been in darker situations than this, and I've always come back strong. I can do it again."
Enrique Rojas is a reporter and columnist for ESPNdeportes.com and ESPN.com.