Lima time up north

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:04 PM ET

EDMONTON -- Jose Lima thought he'd be packing for a funeral, not Edmonton.

When his manager rang him up at 1:30 in the morning to tell him he had some bad news, Lima expected the worst.

"I asked him, 'Who died?'"

No one. Turns out the only plot involved here is one involving two old baseball buddies joining forces for a playoff drive with the Edmonton Capitals.

In a classic minor-league baseball move straight out of Bull Durham, the Caps sent pitcher Kris Honel and five cases of baseballs the other way Friday for the 14-year major-league veteran.

While Lima admits it's tough to leave his old team in mid-season, comparing it with having to leave a family, he says if he had to traded somewhere, this is it.

"I'm so excited, you can see the smile on my face," said the 36-year-old, who telegraphed the move earlier this season when he found out Brent Bowers was the skipper here. "The first thing I said to him when I saw him was, 'why don't you bring me here to play for you?' "

Done deal. He arrived in Edmonton yesterday and is scheduled to get his first start this afternoon (2 p.m.).

Lima, who threw in the majors from 1994-2006 for the Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets, and pitched in the 2004 major league All-Star game, is vowing to live up to the expectations here in Edmonton.

"They brought me here for a reason. To win. I'm grateful to be here, and I'm ready to win a championship."

That's what Bowers is hoping. He's known Lima since their A-ball days and says his larger-than-life character is exactly what the club needs.

"I've played with him in the minor leagues, the big leagues, winter ball in the Dominican, we go back a long way," said Bowers. "The energy and the leadership he's going to bring to the team. We need a fireplug and Jose is going to help us in that way. Guys are really excited about bringing him here. They're really going to get a treat, just listening to him tell stories."

Lima can keep things loose when they need to be loose and can fire guys up when they need firing, but it's his arm, first and foremost, that they traded for. And they say it's still pretty good.

"I feel like I'm 25 years old right now," said Lima, who still has the steam to go deep in a game (83 innings pitched in 11 starts this year). "This is the first time in my career I've had this many innings before the break."

He also has the control (just nine walks this year) to keep the other guys honest.

"He's not going to walk anybody," said Bowers. "He's not going to strike out the world, either. He's going to make them put it in play and he's going to give us 7 to 9 innings. If we play good defence and score runs, he's going to win."

The move underlines Edmonton's desire to be a contender. Now.

"With a Jose Lima, Lou Pote and Mike Johnson in the rotation, those three guys right there, with the major-league experience they have, is pretty good," said Bowers, who's looking forward to the stretch drive even more than he was before.

"I'm just happy to say that one day, I'll be able to tell my kids that I managed Jose Lima."

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@SUNMEDIA.CA


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