12/12/2011 2:54 PM ET
Octavio Dotel: Remembering Jose Lima
The reliever shares fond memories of his friend, teammate
I will never forget my first year with the Astros. Jose Lima had just come off a great season where he won more than 20 games. It was a great time in his life. Everyone called it "Lima Time."
Then I got to play with him, and it was great. He was a great guy. He always had a smile on his face. He had something about him that just made people gravitate toward him. You never really saw him angry. Simply put, he was just a great person.
Some of Jose's best years in Houston were before I got to the big league level. He had great success in the Astrodome in particular. Unfortunately, the success didn't follow him to their new ballpark. I don't know what it was about the new park, but he just didn't have the same success with his pitches there.
There, it seemed like every routine fly ball was destined to go out of the park. He tried to make adjustments, but they didn't work. Lima Time wasn't the same in the new ballpark. One thing I loved about him, though, was that he never lost his confidence. He was the same person through and through. He always wanted the ball and the opportunity to pitch. He never quit. That's one thing I learned from him.
When I was a younger man, a younger pitcher, Jose was a great help in fine-tuning my pitching skills. He taught me about the art of throwing certain pitches in certain situations. I learned how to relax and believe in myself on the mound.
Jose loved baseball, but he loved his music and his dancing. That was just him. He was always very animated and fun to be around. He was a beloved figure back in the Dominican Republic. He spent a lot of time giving back to his people.
I think, and hope, that Jose saw a little bit of himself in me when we first met. He would always call me when he wanted to go out and have fun.
When we learned last year that Jose had passed, it was devastating. No one ever thought he would go at such a young age. It was just so sad, and it remains so sad. He truly is missed, and I am thankful for the time I got to spend with him, both as a teammate and as a friend.
Tigers reliever Octavio Dotel, 37, is with his 13th team. By signing with Detroit this offseason, he set a record for pitchers, surpassing Mike Morgan and Ron Villone. He spent 2011 with the Blue Jays before coming to St. Louis in a midseason trade and winning a World Series.