In 2007, Quintana did not play because he was suspended for violating the terms of minor league baseball's drug policy.
After not pitching professionally in 2007, the Yankees signed Jose, giving the lefthander a second opportunity. He then spent two full seasons in the rookie-level Dominican Summer League before pitching in the U.S.
On May 30, 2012, Quintana was ejected by umpire Mark Wegner from a game against the Tampa Bay Rays after throwing a pitch behind Ben Zobrist.
Jeff Samardzija has been impressed by Quintana's pitching. "He attacks—that's a great word for it," Samardzija said. "He gets a lot of quick outs. He pounds the zone with three or four great pitches. When you do that, you're going to be pretty successful." (Kaye - mlb.com - 2/25/2015)
Spring 2017: Quintana played for Columbia in the World Baseball Classic.
Jose made a promise at the end of the 2013 season, not to become an American League Cy Young Award candidate or an All-Star or a pitcher who threw 200 innings per season. No guarantees of those types were needed with the talent and work ethic possessed by the southpaw. It seemingly came naturally.
Jose, a native of Colombia, wanted to become fluent in English, being able to converse with his teammates and do his interviews with the media in the same way. And when Spring Training began in 2014, Quintana had achieved his goal.
No interpreter was needed, aside from occasional clarification on a point or two from Billy Russo, who serves in that role currently for the White Sox. Quintana was basically self-taught, aside from a couple of Chicago classes. His learning process began in-season, speaking with his teammates, listening closely to what they were saying and processing the words. He also watched American television shows to help pick up the language.
What were the shows Quintana relied upon, you may ask? "Who is that guy who made the Boston Red Sox movie?" asked Quintana, referring to "Fever Pitch."
"Jimmy Fallon," Russo responded.
"I watched his show," Quintana said, smiling a little broader at this point. "I watched a couple of TV shows from him. It's really funny." So the current host of The Tonight Show contributed to the current ace of the White Sox putting yet another impressive accomplishment on his resume. Ultimately this is not a tale of Quintana's late-night endorsement, as much as it's about the easy dedication and fervor with which Quintana approaches life.
"That's part of my job and I put a lot of effort in to learn that language," Quintana said. "It's fun. It's fun when you can talk with American guys and know what they mean and everything. It's a different language, sometimes a different style." (Merkin - mlb.com - 3/22/2017)
After appearing as a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Jose has decided against a career in acting—at least in the near future.
"No, no. I'll keep pitching," Quintana said with a broad smile, speaking prior to the April 19, 2017 game at Yankee Stadium. "But it was good, and we had a meeting and spent a really good time there."
The connection between Quintana and Fallon began during Spring Training 2017, when Jose told MLB.com about watching Fallon's show as one of the ways in which he taught himself English. The White Sox, through Major League Baseball, helped set up this meeting during the team's visit to New York.
Quintana taped the segment April 16. In the segment, Quintana confirmed his English connection to Fallon and then helped Fallon learn some Spanish.
"Me llamo Jimmy Fallon," said Quintana, as he helped Fallon say his name in Spanish.
Fallon repeated that statement and did the same when Quintana said "I am the host of the Tonight Show" in Spanish. And the last one interjected a little more humor, with Fallon saying in Spanish, "I forgot my wallet. Can you pay for my thong?"
There was even a shout-out of "Q" from Fallon at the segment's close. "It was fun. It was a great time. I was excited. I was a little nervous, but it was really easy. He made it easy for me," Quintana said. "He was a good guy. He was a natural guy. It was a great experience for me, and he asked me a lot about baseball, and we spent a good time together."
Jose rehearsed a little bit before the taping, but added it was pretty easy from the start. He received support and a little playful ribbing from his teammates over the appearance. "They were excited," Quintana said. "They said, 'You're the funny guy right now.' They were excited for me and said he's the best famous guy in the country, and I said, 'I know, I know. I watched his show.' So everybody was excited for me yesterday." (Merkin - mlb.com - 4/19/2017)
July 28, 2017: After Jose collected his first Major League hit, a single to right in the third inning, he just wanted to touch the baseball. Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar obliged, handing the ball to Quintana as he stood on first base.
"I was excited when I hit that ball to right field," Quintana said. "I'm not a hitter, but I tried to do my best. When I got the hit, I was real excited. I wanted to touch the ball—it was good."
He had the ball in a box on his locker shelf after the game. Quintana knows the Cubs acquired him to bolster the rotation in the final months of the season.
"Every game counts," Quintana said. "I'm really happy to feel that atmosphere every night when I go to the mound. It was a tough night for me." (C Muskat - MLB.com - July 29, 2017)
Carlos Chantres was a coach in the Yankees' organization in 2008 when he first saw Jose at the team's Dominican Republic academy. "I still remember to this day, walking down a path and to my left, I see him throwing, and I said, 'Who's this?'" Chantres said of the then-19-year-old lefty. "I keep walking, and I get to the fence and he's pretty good. It was just the way the ball was coming out of his hand. The arm worked nice."
Chantres could see a few mechanical flaws in Quintana's delivery, but he knew they were fixable. "He had an idea of his delivery already," Chantres said. "We tweaked some stuff, nothing crazy. He was a smart kid. He learned English quickly. We worked on staying back a little bit, the balance stuff, but overall, the credit is to him."
Asked if there was one coach who had the most influence on him, Quintana picked Chantres, now in the Braves' organization. The two still stay in touch, texting about once a month to catch up on their families, baseball and life.
Chantres sensed that Quintana was motivated. The pitcher had signed with the Mets in 2006, but he was released in July 2007. The Yankees signed him in March 2008. "His getting released opened his eyes a little bit," Chantres said. "'I'm not on a team now—what do I do?' That second chance with the Yankees, that was huge."
Quintana is motivated in the 2018 season as well. He wants another trip to the postseason and more games like his Cubs debut on July 16 against the Orioles, when he struck out 12 over seven scoreless innings.
Chantres saw what Quintana could be 10 years ago in the Dominican Republic.
"That's his rhythm, that's his timing," Chantres said. "That was the timing he needed to get to all his key points. Once he got to those key points, he started. I wanted to take him when I was the pitching coach at [Class A] Charleston, I wanted him. They told me he needed to stay [in the lower levels]. Things happen for a reason. He stayed there and got called up to pitch in high A in a spot start. He went back up again because a guy couldn't start, and he stayed there.
"He's a pro. Everything he does, he's a pro," Chantres said. "God bless him, it worked out for him." (Muskat - mlb.com - 3/20/2018)
Here's some things you should know about "Q":
• Growing up in Colombia, he admired Edgar Renteria and Orlando Cabrera. "Edgar Renteria was my hero," Quintana said. "He's my friend. He lives in the same city where I live, close to me. He's a great person. I learned a lot from him."
• Quintana was a first baseman and center fielder, and he didn't start pitching until he was 15 years old.
• Yes, Quintana did watch Jimmy Fallon on television to learn English. There was something about Fallon's accent that made it easy for Quintana to understand. Quintana did appear on "The Tonight Show" in April 2017 to talk about the experience. "It was pretty special," Quintana said. "He's a famous guy in this country, but most important, he's a great person. That's what I saw when I talked to him."
• It was with the Yankees and Chantres that Quintana learned to develop a routine to prepare for his starts. Chantres, whose family is Cuban and who lives in Miami, was with Quintana in the Dominican Republic in 2008 and '09, and again in '10 when the lefty was pitching in the Gulf Coast League.
"He put in the hard work and applied everything we talked about, and the rest is history," Chantres said. "He's a pro. That's the best way to describe him. He knows what to do, he goes about his business well. He knows how to carry himself. Props to him, because he had to go through some adversity, not getting called up, stuff like that, coming from Colombia. Again, it was all him. He deserves all the credit."
• During a Spring Training 2018 sim game, one of the observers was Adbert Alzolay. The Venezuelan pitcher, ranked No. 1 on MLB Pipeline's list of Top 30 Cubs prospects, tried to watch every one of Quintana's side sessions. Lefty reliever Rob Zastryzny downloaded four of Quintana's games to his iPad to study. Quintana's delivery is so precise that youngsters want to copy it. (Muskat - mlb.com - 3/20/2018)
2006: The Mets signed Quintana as a free agent, out of Columbia.
2007: The Mets released Quintana.
March 10, 2008: He signed as a free agent with the Yankees.
November 6, 2010: Quintana became a free agent.
December 15, 2010: He signed (again) as a free agent with the Yankees.
November 10, 2011: Quintana signed with the White Sox organization.
- March 24, 2014: Jose and the White Sox agreed on a five-year contract that could be worth as much as $26.5 million guaranteed.
Two team options could take the deal into the 2020 season and possibly make the total value $48.5 million. If Quintana is eligible for arbitration following the upcoming season, the deal will net him $26.8 million. If he is not eligible for arbitration, the guaranteed money would become $21 million.
- July 13, 2017: Quintana was traded to the Cubs in exchange for two Top 100 Prospects—outfielder Eloy Jimenez (No. 8) and RHP Dylan Cease (No. 63), plus first baseman Matt Rose and infielder Bryant Flete.