Jose Desiderio Rodriguez Lima was born in the Dominican Republic on September 30, 1972. He was originally signed by the Detroit Tigers in 1989, making his debut there in 1994. The colorful, animated pitcher, pitched there for three seasons, going 8-16 with three saves. He began as a started but by 1996 was put in a relief role.
In 1997 he was traded to the Houston Astros along with Brad Ausmus, Trever Miller, C.J. Nitkowski and Daryle Ward in exchange for Doug Brocail, Brian Hunter, Todd Jones, Orlando Miller and cash. In Houston Lima would have his best seasons.
He had a successful 1998 season, winning 16 games (16-8) tenth most wins in the NL. He posted a .667 win loss % also tenth best in the league. He posted a 3.70 ERA pitching in 233 innings. At the plate he even hit .138 driving in four runs.
He went on to have his best season in 1999, making the All Star team, going 21-10 (2nd most wins in the NL). He lead the NL in starts, posting a 3.58 ERA (9th in the NL) striking out 187 (7th in the NL) batters pitching in 246 (3rd in the NL) innings & throwing three complete games. When he started games, the fans in Houston would call it “Lima Time”.
In the post season he lost Game #2 of the NLCS 5-1 to the Atlanta Braves & Kevin Millwood. Even in those successful seasons he allowed over 100 runs both times & gave up over 30 plus HRs.
In 2000 the roof fell in on him he lead the league in earned runs (145) & HRs (48) going 7-16 with a huge 6.65 ERA. 2001 wasn’t much better (6-10 5.54 ERA).
The wacky Lima was always up to something zany. Whether it was dying his hair light blonde, or sporting braids, he was always joking & smiling on any team he was with.
On the mound he was very emotional, pumping his fist or yelling up to the sky with some kind of emotion. It seemed no one enjoyed Lima Time more than himself.
Over the next few years he was a spot starter & reliever for Detroit (again) Kansas City, Los Angeles & the New York Mets never regaining his top form.
In 2003 he was with the Newark Bears in the Atlantic league but got a break when the Royals came and grabbed him. The next season in L.A. (2004) he did go 13-5 although he posted a 4.07 ERA, allowing 33 HRs & 77 earned runs in 170 innings. In 2005 he posted the highs ERA of all time for a pitcher with 30 or more starts at 6.99.
In February 2006 the Mets gave him a shot, and he began the year with the AAA Norfolk Tides.
He got called up when the staff needed some help in early May, but the Lima experiment didn’t last too long. Lima debuted as a Met on May 7th, getting the start at Shea Stadum against the Atlanta Braves. He allowed five runs on seven hits in five innings of work earning the loss. In his next start the Brewers roughed him up for five runs in Milwaukee in 9-6 Mets loss. On May 18th he took the mound in St. Louis but was gone in the 5th inning as well giving up five runs (four earned) in a 6-3 loss.
He was designated for assignment by May 20th, but then got another shot on July 4th. In his final start the Marlins pounded him as pitcher Dontrell Willis even blasted a grand slam off him. He went 0-4 with a 9.87 ERA allowing 19 earned runs, & 10 walks in just 17 innings pitched. His career was finished at the end of the year, and there was no more Lima time.
In his 13 year career Lima was 89-102 with five saves & a 5.26 ERA. He had 980 strikeouts, with 393 walks in 1567 innings of work in 348 appearances. He allowed 917 earned runs, & 267 HRs in that time.
Retirement: After his MLB playing days, he played in the Independent League, Korea & Dominican winter ball. He sang the National Anthem during his time in L.A. & wanted to peruse a singing career.
On May 22, 2010 he suddenly passed away from a heart attack, he was 37 years old. Later that night in Philadelphia, friend & Red Sox slugger David Ortiz wrote R.I.P Lima on his cap during a Sox – Phillies game.