Former All-Star pitcher Jose Lima was found dead Sunday morning at his Los Angeles home, after suffering an apparent heart attack. The 37-year-old had not pitched in the majors since a stint with the New York Mets in 2006.
He had recently spent time in the Korean League and Independent league just last summer.
Many will remember Lima as a fiery guy, who liked to wear his emotions on his sleeve. He bounced around after a 1999 season that saw him win 21 games for the Houston Astros, by far the best season of his career—a career that saw him pitch for 13 seasons, on five different teams, and win 89 games, while losing 102.
Lima got his start with the Detroit Tigers in 1994. He made his major league debut on April 20 of that year, but he had some struggles that year, pitching just over six innings, and giving up 10 earned runs. He was sent back to the minors by early May.
In 1995 and '96, Lima went 8-15 with an ERA approaching six. Detroit would trade Lima to Houston, where his potential would finally turn into production.
In 1997, Lima pitched out of the bullpen and went 1-6 with an ERA of over 5.00. The following year, he had earned a spot in the rotation after a solid spring. He would notch a then career-high 16 wins against just 8 defeats, and would carry an ERA of just under 4.00.
The 1999 season was by far his best season, as that year Lima won 21 games, and strikeout nearly 200 batters. He was voted to the All-Star game, and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting. Lima time had been born.
But, as good of a season as Lima enjoyed in 1999, he would never reach those heights again.
He would once again pitch in Detroit, but on a team that may have been the worst in baseball in 2002. He went 5-10, and was quoted in the local papers as saying, "If I can't pitch on one of the worst teams in baseball history, where am I supposed to pitch?"
He would have one more solid season with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2005, as he went 13-5, and recorded the team's first playoff win since the 1988 World Series. He threw a five-hit, shutout against the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS.
After that he bounced around between Kansas City and the Mets, and eventually left the majors all together.
After stints in Korea and the Independent League, Lima finally left baseball for good, and was actively involved in public appearances on behalf of the Dodgers' organization.
While Lima had not been in the majors since 2006, players still have taken the news hard.
Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz wrote, "R.I.P. Lima" on his cap in Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Lima will be missed.
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