Former Astros pitcher Jose Lima dies at age 37

n this May 7, 1999 file photo, Houston Astros pitcher Jose Lima delivers a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the Montreal Expos in Houston. The Los Angeles Dodgers say former pitcher Jose Lima died Sunday, May 23, 2010. He was 37. According to the Aguilas Cibaenas, Lima's winter ball team in the Dominican Republic, he died of an apparent heart attack. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
May 23, 2010 5:16:41 PM PDT
Jose Lima, the energetic right-hander who was a 20-game winner and an All-Star during a 13-year major league career, died Sunday, the Los Angeles Dodgers said. He was 37. Lima, who won 13 games with the Dodgers in 2004, died of an apparent heart attack, according to the Aguilas Cibaenas, a winter ball team that Lima had played for in the Dominican Republic.

"Lima was an exceptional man. This is a great loss for Dominican baseball and the country," team president Winston Llenas said.

Referring to his often high-energy outings as "Lima Time," Lima posted his best season in 1999 when he was selected to the All-Star game as a Houston Astro. He went 21-10 in 35 starts with a 3.58 ERA for the NL Central champion Astros.

In 13 major league seasons, the native of the Dominican Republic was 89-102 with a 5.26 ERA. He hadn't pitched in the major leagues since a four-game stop with the New York Mets in 2006.

"He was a man full of life, without apparent physical problems and with many plans and projects on the agenda," his wife, Dorca Astacio, told ESPNdeportes.com.

On Friday night, he attended a game at Dodger Stadium, where he was introduced between innings and received an ovation from the crowd.

Lima went 46-42 with the Astros between 1997-2001, and he was a 20-game winner and an All-Star with the Houston team.

With the Dodgers in 2004 and 2005, Lima had a record of 13-5, with a 4.07 ERA. In the 2004 National League Division Series, Lima pitched a 5-hit shutout against the St. Louis Cardinals in front of a sell-out crowd at Dodger Stadium. It was the Dodgers first postseason win since Game 5 of the 1988 World Series.

Dodgers owner Frank McCourt called Lima's electric personality "unforgettable."

"He had the ability to light up a room and that's exactly what he did every time I saw him," McCourt said in a statement Sunday. McCourt said Lima further endeared himself to fans when he sang the National Anthem prior to a home game in 2004.

Former Dodgers teammate Guillermo Mota said Lima loved to spend time with fans.

"He would sign autographs all the time and ask the kids, 'What time is it?' They would answer 'Lima Time!' I can see it right now." said Mota, now a Giants reliever. "He had so much energy. I used to play catch with him and I'd be laughing on every throw."

Lima also spent two stints with Detroit and Kansas City.

"This is a shock for us because Lima was a young man who seemed healthy and nobody imagined this," said Tomas Jimenez, manager of the Aguilas Cibaenas.

Funeral arrangements were pending.


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