SURPRISE, Ariz.: A scout employed by an opposing team who watched Ubaldo Jimenez struggle against the Reds on Saturday almost couldn’t believe his radar gun.
“His fastball was 89-91 [mph],” the scout said. “He might have touched 92 once or twice, but his slider was flat. He also looked like his mind was somewhere else. I haven’t seen him like that in two years.”
Since being traded from the Rockies to the Indians midway through the 2011 season, Jimenez seldom has shown the 97-98 mph fastball that enabled him to dominate National League hitters the first half of 2010. However, he consistently threw 93 and 94 in his starts for the Tribe.
In his first spring training outing this year, manager Manny Acta said Jimenez’s fastball ranged from 94 to 96, but he has not performed well, with both Jimenez and Acta attributing his problems to a lack of command.
On Saturday, he gave up six runs, five hits and four walks in 3‚ innings, throwing more than 80 pitches to get 11 outs. Among the hits he allowed were a home run, double and triple; even some of his outs were struck with authority.
“Ubaldo had very little command of his pitches today,” Acta said afterward. “He threw 80-some pitches to get through 3‚ innings. He has three more outings to go. Those next three will tell us if we have something to worry about or what. It’s time for him to get it in gear.”
Last spring Jimenez was bothered by two injuries, but he said he is totally healthy now. Yet in four starts, Jimenez has given up 10 earned runs and 15 hits in 9‚ innings.
Five more players who had no shot at making the 25-man roster were sent to the minor-league camp.
Outfielder Ezequiel Carrera, shortstop Juan Diaz and right-hander Corey Kluber were optioned to Columbus. Right-hander Hector Ambriz and catcher Michel Hernandez will be reassigned to teams at a later date.
“We just wanted to see Ambriz healthy after his surgery, and he did well,” Acta said, referring to the elbow reconstruction operation Ambriz underwent after the 2010 season.
“Ezequiel needs to work on his game in the minor league camp and Kluber has to get stretched out to start at Triple-A.”
Diaz went 5-for-16 in exhibition games, but his forte is defense.
“He’s a very good defensive player,” Acta said. “He shows good range and he has a plus arm from shortstop. The message to him is that he needs to work on the consistency of his swing, because we are not deep at that position and he could help us at some point.”
“B” game time
Zach McAllister will start in a “B” game this morning against the White Sox at the Goodyear complex.
Rafael Perez (sore shoulder) and Robinson Tejeda (strained calf) were scheduled to pitch in a minor-league game Sunday but were scratched because of chilly temperatures (47 degrees in the morning) and rain even earlier in the morning.
But Chris Perez (strained oblique) threw a bullpen using all his pitches.
“We were very happy with his bullpen,” Acta said. “He threw all his pitches. It was the highlight of the day.”
The next step is for Perez to throw to hitters, “and we’ll go from there,” Acta said.
Don’t hold your breath
There has been a quiet battle going on for the everyday third base job between Jack Hannahan and Lonnie Chisenhall.
When will the decision be made?
“That one will go down to the end,” Acta said.
The Indians take on the Dodgers today at Goodyear Ballpark. Jeanmar Gomez will start against Clayton Kershaw, with Vinnie Pestano, Joe Smith, Dan Wheeler, Chris Ray and Chris Seddon ready in the bullpen.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/tribematters. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sports.abj.