Jose Jaimes’ 30th birthday is still a week away, but he’s already begun his sixth year of coaching. Jaimes finds it strange to realize that he’s coached for as many years as his playing career lasted.
Jaimes is in his first year as pitching coach for the Spokane Indians, the team he played for in 2006-07 as his six-year pro career came to an end.
“I was staying positive that I was going to continue playing (after 2007),” Jaimes said Tuesday. “Once (the Texas Rangers) told me that I wasn’t going to play anymore and they offered me the job, I thought about my chance to get back in the game as a player and I knew it was going to be hard for me, so that’s why I took my chance to be a coach.”
Jaimes started his coaching career in 2008 at the Rangers’ Arizona rookie league team. He served as pitching coach for the Dominican Summer League Rangers from 2009-12 before returning to Arizona last season as assistant pitching coach.
“Once they told me I was going to be back here in Spokane, I got really excited,” Jaimes said. “I have good memories here.”
When Jaimes started coaching, he found it awkward to offer instruction to former teammates. Now he’s on the same staff with his former manager, Tim Hulett, who began his Indians stint during Jaimes’ final season with Spokane.
Jaimes decided from the start of his coaching career to put his playing days forever in the rearview mirror. But he was still young enough to easily relate to current players.
“I try to talk about my experience,” Jaimes said. “I was a guy who had tools. I used to throw hard, but I wasn’t mentally ready. Every time I failed, I took it really hard. … Now I tell guys, whatever happens, happens. Once the ball leaves your hands, it’s gone.”
Jaimes, of Caracas, Venezuela, signed with the Rangers shortly before turning 17. The right-hander pitched for the DSL Rangers in 2002 and ’03 before moving to the AZL Rangers for two seasons. He went 2-1 with a 2.25 earned-run average in 16 innings for Spokane in 2006, making four starts. In 2007, he played 22 games, including two starts, and went 3-1 with a 4.35 ERA.
“I got here in 2006 and my stuff wasn’t the same,” Jaimes said. “I was already 22, 23 years old by that time, and I was playing short season, so that was kind of like, ‘That’s it for me.’ ”
The Indians’ pitching staff has highlighted the team’s 4-0 start to this Northwest League season. All four Spokane starters have worked at least five innings to earn wins. Last year, one pitcher in the Indians’ first 12 games worked long enough to qualify for a decision.
“I think once we get in a couple of weeks, we’re going to really see what we’re made from,” Jaimes said. “It’s a little too early, but I think we have a really special group.”
Jaimes and his wife, Karina, have been married for 3 1/2 years. They met at their church in Venezuela.
“Wherever I go, she goes with me,” Jaimes said. “She’s having a blast here in Spokane.”