Guillen, Royals remember Lima

Guillen, Royals remember Lima

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals observed a moment of silence before Sunday's game in memory of former pitcher Jose Lima, who died on Sunday morning of a heart attack at his home in Los Angeles.

Lima, a popular member of the Royals clubs of 2003 and 2005, was the Opening Day pitcher in '05. In his two seasons with the Royals, he had 13 of his 89 Major League victories.

The Royals' Jose Guillen was stunned when he heard the news before Sunday's game against the Rockies.

"He was a good friend of mine, we were real close. I talk to him every year and when I go there (Dominican Republic) I see him and we always talked," Guillen said. "This is a shock."

Pitcher Zack Greinke and outfielder David DeJesus were Lima teammates in his Royals years.

"Jose was just one of those guys who would bring life to the clubhouse and the team," DeJesus said. "It's definitely a tragedy for him and his family and our heart goes out to everyone that's related to him and knows him because he's just one of those guys who brought joy around.

"Even if he had a bad game, he wouldn't show it and let it get to him. Down inside it hurt but he would never show guys that he was defeated. I learned a lot from him and those are the kind of qualities you pick up from guys throughout the years."

Greinke also had fond memories of the ebullient Lima.

"He just had a lot of energy, he was always in a good mood," Greinke said. "He just lived life happy all the time and enjoyed every second of it."

Lima was known for the catch phrase, "It's Lima Time!" He made an immediate impact after signing on with the Royals on June 4, 2003, out of an independent league by going 7-0 with a 2.17 ERA in his first eight starts.

He posted an 8-3 record and 4.91 ERA that year, but left as a free agent and joined the Los Angeles Dodgers for a 13-5 season. He returned to KC for the 2005 season and was 5-16 with a 6.99 ERA in 32 starts. His big league career ended in 2006 in a brief stay with the New York Mets, but he continued to pitch in the Dominican Winter League.

Royals pitcher Brian Bannister was a Lima teammate during his Mets' Minor League days at Norfolk in 2006.

"His favorite saying was 'Jam!' He loved saying that. [It's] where you jam a hitter but he also used it to be funny," Bannister said.

At the time, Norfolk's roster included a former first-round draft pick in pitcher Royce Ring.

"I'll never forget because Lima bought [Ring's] white Hummer with the spinner wheels on it so he was driving around Norfolk, Va., in this white Hummer -- it was amazing. He just bought it right off of him. He was so funny," Bannister said.

Lima was a popular entertainer as well and former Royal Mark Teahen used a Lima recording as his "walk-up" music. He sang at a Houston night club while with the Astros. When KC shortstop Angel Berroa was married in the Dominican, Lima was the star of the reception show.

Sometimes Lima would perform the national anthem before games.

"He was just a great dude," Bannister said. "He always had music going in the clubhouse, it was just nonstop. He was one of those guys who could get under your skin a little bit as an opposing player but, as a teammate, you loved the guy. I'll miss him."