Why Ubaldo is smiling…
Ubaldo Jimenez loves being with the Indians. I mean, he really loves being with the Indians. Asked how it compared to being in the Rockies organization, Jimenez bit his tongue as much as he could, but he did offer one gem of a quote for reporters.
“This is like being in heaven for me,” he said.
Earlier this week, long-time baseball writer Tracy Ringolsby wrote of how Jimenez actually hoped to be trade last spring — not just in July. Before last season, the Rockies inked Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez to long-term contracts, but chose a wait-and-see approach with Ubaldo given his club-friendly deal than runs through 2014.
It made Jimenez feel unwanted by Colorado and he hoped for a chance to find a fresh start with a new team.
“It was kind of hard being with the Rockies,” Jimenez said. “I went through a lot. I think people outside the organization, they don’t know. But me and the people in the front office, they know. It works both ways. They’re happy and I’m happy. I’m happy to be here. And they’re happy with what they got.”
What the Rockies got was a four-player package that centered around pitchers Alex White and Drew Pomeranz. What Jimenez received was a new place to call his baseball home, and he was thrilled when he learned he’d be coming to Cleveland. He’s become even happier now that he has spent some time with his current club.
“You only hear good things about this organization,” he said of the Tribe. “The way they work, the way they prepare the players and they treat everyone the same. They try to develop evey single one. It doesn’t matter how much money you got when you signed.”
As for the Rockies? Well, Jimenez didn’t want to go into much more detail.
“There were a lot of things since the Minor Leagues,” said the pitcher. “That’s the past. I was there. I’m not there anymore. I feel happy here. I don’t have anything in my mind. I don’t have to worry about anything but going out there and pitching.”
On Thursday, Jimenez logged two inconsistent innings in a 6-5 loss to the Angels. The right-hander allowed two hits, issued two walks and threw 39 pitches (19 strikes). Of those throws, though, 31 (15) came in a long first inning. Ubaldo said he had trouble early on commanding his sinker, so he switched to four-seamers in the second.
Indians manager Manny Acta said it’s normal for pitchers like Jimenez and Justin Masterson to need time to harness a strong command and feel of the sinker.
“It’s the same thing for just about every power pitcher,” Acta explained. “The second outing out here, I don’t think any of those guys are going to be in command of their pitches. I’d be worried if power pitching guys, the last week or 10 days of the spring, are bouncing balls and throwing the ball all over the place.
“The first couple outings in Spring Training it’s totally different than a guy like [Josh] Tomlin or [Kevin] Slowey or some of those guys. Power pitchers, it takes them a little longer.”
Some notes from Thursday…
- Center fielder Grady Sizemore chated for the first time since undergoing surgery on his lower back. Check out Indians.com for the latest on him, along with some other notebook items from Thursday. Teaser: Jason Kipnis discusses singing Adele on national television.
- Had a nice long discussion with infielder Cord Phelps today about his offseason journey to Jerusalem. Two of his former college teammates completed a 12,000-mile trek from South Africa to Israel and Phelps was there to meet them at the finish line. There will be a feature about this on Indians.com later tonight.
- Tomlin piggybacked Jimenez in Thursday’s game, logging three innings in his second outing of the spring. The righty allowed four runs on six hits, but Acta still walked away pleased with Tomlin’s pitch efficiency.
- Right-hander Jeanmar Gomez had another strong showing, turning in two shutout innings despite working with some traffic. Gomez — competing against Slowey, David Huff and Zach McAllister for the fifth spot — scattered two hits, walked two and struck out one.
- Veteran infielder Jose Lopez — a non-roster addition to camp — belted a homer in Thursday’s game. Lopez is hitting .667 in his small Spring Training sample size to this point. Acta said Lopez could “make things interesting” if he keeps hitting well. Lopez is competing for a utility bench role.
- Acta noted that the makeup of the bench will be influenced by left field and third base. If Lonnie Chisenhall wins the starting job at third, Jack Hannahan could slide to a utility role. Say, Shelley Duncan wins the left field job, that removes him from the bench as a first baseman/left fielder/DH. Right now, Acta said it’s too early to predict how many utility infielder or outfielders are on the bench. I think Jason Donald has a leg up for one of the three available jobs, though.
- Right-hander Robinson Tejeda has been sidelined for much of the past week due to a strained right calf. He resumed a throwing program on Thursday, however. He is in camp as a non-roster invitee and is competing for a bullpen spot.
- Lefty Rafael Perez — a virtual lock for a bullpen job — threw off a mound on Thursday after dealing with soreness in his throwing shoulder earlier in camp. He should be able to make his Cactus League debut soon.
- Minor League catcher Chun Chen was wearing a protective boot on Thursday after rolling his right ankle during the morning workout. He is considered day to day with the sprained ankle.
- Closer Chris Perez has a day off from throwing Thursday, but should resume his throwing program on Friday. If he sticks with the predicted schedule, he would advance to throwing from 90 feet. On deck would be 105 and then 120, before he would move back up a mound.
- Scheduled to pitch on Friday against the Brewers in Maryvale are Derek Lowe, Nick Hagadone, CC Lee, Zach McAllister, Chris Ray and Dan Wheeler. Some highlights on the travel squad include: Russ Canzler, Travis Hafner, Jack Hannahan, Jason Kipnis, Casey Kotchman, Aaron Cunningham, Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley and Ryan Spilborghs, among others.
NOTE: After 19 days of consecutive Indians coverage, the higher ups have informed me that I have a day off on Friday. I might show up early to the complex to keep my streak alive, or I may head into the Estrella Mountains for a trail run. Either way, the Tribe beat will be in capable hands for a day while I recharge the batteries. –JB
Photo of the Day
A look at Shin-Soo Choo’s new ink.
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