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Cleveland Indians

Gimenez raises eyebrows

By Sheldon Published: March 16, 2009

Chris Gimenez whacked a three-run homer with two outs and the score tied in the ninth to give the Indians a 4-1 win over the Brewers Monday at Goodyear Ballpark.

There will be no parade through downtown Goodyear today, and Gimenez will not ask to renegotiate his contract. This was only an exhibition game. Meaningless as to the result but not as to the process.

In other words, it was one more plus on Gimenez's resume. If he were playing football at Ohio State, he would have one side of his helmet filled with Buckeye leaves, and he's not even going to make the team. At least not at the outset of the season.

"I think I established a groundwork last season at the plate,'' Gimenez said. ""I put myself in a good position with quality at-bats, and it's carrying over to this year.''

Gimenez has three doubles and two home runs this spring, seven hits altogether to go with a .368 average. His ratio of extra-base hits to total hits is impressive, even for such a small sample.

Drafted as an outfielder, Tribe player development people asked him to play third and catch. Now, he also plays first.

When the season starts at Columbus, Gimenez probably will share catching duties with Wyatt Toregas, but he won't be allowed to abandon his other positions.

"I like it,'' Gimenez said of being a Jack of all trades. ""There's an excitement to it. You might play at a different spot every day. Mentally and physically, it's a little tougher than playing one position all the time. It's a challenge.''

There is no question that Gimenez has joined Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley, Trevor Crowe, Wes Hodges, Luis Valbuena, Beau Mills and Carlos Santana at the top of the prospect class of position players.

"Chris is having a great camp,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""He's definitely put himself on the radar screen. He's very consistent with his approach day to day, and he's smart and tough.''

Does Gimenez have a sense of where he stands in the organization?

"I think I can tell today,'' he smiled. ""What manager wouldn't like a guy who gives him a few options (defensively) and can put up a good at-bat in the seventh, eighth or ninth inning.''

EFFECTIVE AGAIN -- Jeremy Sowers pitched well for the second time in a row, allowing one run and three his in four innings. In his past two outings, Sowers has yielded one run and five hits in seven innings.

"Jeremy was aggressive with his fastball and had good command,'' Wedge said. ""His slider also was a little better.''

Aaron Laffey, Scott Lewis and Sowers have become the frontrunners to win the job as No. 5 starter, but a decision probably won't be made for a couple of weeks.

"We'll continue to play it out,'' Wedge said.

THE LONG ROAD -- Travis Hafner (shoulder surgery) is healthy, but he has not demonstrated the ability to hit the ball hard, which was routine before he was injured.

"His batting practice is very good,'' Wedge said. ""I think it will take more at-bats to get his timing back. He does have his swing back, but he fought so long to get his swing it will take a little time.''

Hafner was 0-for-3 with a walk and is batting .167 in only 18 at-bats. He is scheduled to be the DH again today.

MARCHING ONWARD -- The Indians travel to Peoria this afternoon to play Rangers. Cliff Lee will start against Scott Feldman, with Kerry Wood, Joe Smith, Masa Kobayashi, Matt Herges, Tony Sipp and Juan Salas ready to come out of the bullpen.

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