CHICAGO: Ubaldo Jimenez is working on stuff.
During spring training, he said his inability to throw strikes and his diminished velocity were a consequence of getting ready for the season, of working on stuff.
Then the season started. Jimenez and the strike zone continued to be only distant acquaintances, and his fastball seldom rose to the level of his glory half-season with the Colorado Rockies, 2010 pre-All-Star Game. He was working on stuff again.
Wednesday night, Jimenez struggled through 4⅔ innings — partly because of defensive lapses by teammates — giving up seven runs (four earned), eight hits and six walks.
After the game, both he and Indians manager Manny Acta said that Jimenez was working on new stuff.
“He just started working on this a week ago,” Acta said.
Both Acta and Jimenez explained the latest adjustment as changing his left arm angle to prevent him from “flying open,” which causes his throwing arm to drag behind his torso. Pitching coach Scott Radinsky noticed the flaw when he compared Jimenez’s 2010 delivery on video to his current windup.
“The mechanical adjustment he is trying to make not only affects his velocity but his command,” Acta said Wednesday. “It’s all about muscle memory and repeating his delivery. It’s kind of tough to make changes in a major-league game, but we saw some improvement the first couple of innings last night. We’re not blind to his velocity being down, but he has to make the mechanical adjustments.”
During spring training, there seemed to be some effort to make more radical alterations in Jimenez’s unconventional delivery, which were met by resistance. As recently as a week ago, Jimenez was asked if he would be willing to modify his mechanics in a significant way.
“I’m too old for that,” he said. “It would be like starting over.”
Acta has no illusions about deconstructing Jimenez’s delivery and rebuilding it.
“You can’t change the way he throws,” Acta said. “He can’t change that. He’s been doing it since he was 12 or 5, and he can’t flip a switch and just change it.”
But Acta insists that Jimenez has been open to less sweeping modifications in his delivery.
“He’s been very good at taking any type of assessment or adjustment that Radinsky has suggested,” Acta said. “And he’s the first to agree he needs to get better.”
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.