Results tagged ‘ Ubaldo Jimenez ’

Three innings? Jimenez can take it

Rockies right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez’s first Spring Training outing, Friday against the Angels at Tempe, will be three innings. Other starters whose Cactus League debuts have been announced will throw just two innings.

But Jimenez doesn’t mind the extra early work.

Jimenez pitched during the Dominican Winter League playoffs, and came to camp ahead of most of the pitchers in terms of readiness. He doesn’t intend to take extra rest later in the spring.

“I don’t want to rest,” Jimenez said. “I don’t want to lose anything. I like for my arm always to be loose. If I don’t throw for a couple of days, I don’t feel good.”

The Rockies have split-squad games Friday, one against the Angels and the other against the Giants at Scottsdale. Manager Jim Tracy said he wanted to keep Jimenez away from the Giants, since he could be pitching big games against them during the regular season. Lefty Jeff Francis, who missed last year because of shoulder surgery, will start against the Giants.

Jimenez said his opponent doesn’t matter.

“I’ll pitch against anyone, but I understand why they’re doing it,” Jimenez said.

Rockies near top of Bill James list

The just-published Bill James Gold Mine 2010 — a paperback chock full of analysis, notes and nuggets published by ACTA Sports Inc. – lists the Rockies as having the second-best inventory of young talent in baseball.

The Rockies ranked behind only the Rays, and were just ahead of the Twins.

“The Rockies rank 2nd in young position players, 7th in young pitching, 19th in prospects,” said James, a leading baseball statistical analyst for more than 30 years. “The top five are Troy Tulowitzki, Huston Street, Ubaldo Jimenez, Brad Hawpe and Seth Smith.”

James ranked the Rockies seventh last year.

James also listed the 20 “most valuable properties” among players — young stars with upside. Tulowitzki, the Rockies’ shortstop, was ranked 17th, the highest of any Rockies player.

Rain hits, but the important work is done

A hard and chilly rain hit Tucson right around the time the Rockies’ pitchers and catchers were scheduled to end their drills during Saturday morning’s workout. It forced the team to change some plans for post-workout conditioning, but manager Jim Tracy said the baseball work was done.

Tracy is calling on his pitchers to be versatile offensively. Most of the time they’ll be asked to advance runners, with the bunt being the No. 1 weapon. But if pitchers develp the ability to slug-bunt for a base hit in such a situation or hit-and-run, suddenly Tracy can make surprise calls — or at least give the opponent other factors to consider.

“You look at those great Braves clubs with [Greg] Maddux, and [John] Smoltz, and [Tom] Glavine, and, back in the day, [Steve] Avery,” Tracy said. “One of the things you knew, and this goes back to when I was a coach in Montreal, they started and were able to do a lot of things. When they walked to the plate, yes, you knew a bunt was in order and there were times they would do that.

“But you had to be concious about the fact they could possibly do anything. That alone right there eased the opportunity for you to get the job done.”

Jason Marquis, one of baseball’s best offensive pitchers, took his bat and arm to the Nationals this winter after a strong 2009 for the Rockies. But Aaron Cook is such a versatile hitter that former manager Clint Hurdle used him as a pinch-hitter, and Jeff Francis has been more-than respectable at the plate.

At one point, stories of Ubaldo Jimenez’s ineptitude with the bat were sources of comedy, and Jorge De La Rosa wasn’t good, eithre. Now Jimenez is advanced with the bat. De La Rosa won an important game with the Mets last season with a double. Tracy said Jason Hammel, who had been in the American League with the Rays before being traded to the Rockies at the start of the seaso, also improved as last season progressed.

Look for Jimenez to start Opening Day

Rockies manager Jim Tracy didn’t name right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez the starter for Opening Day, April 5 at Milwaukee on Saturday. But that has more to do with the fact he just has yet to have that formal conversation with Jimenez.

“Not just yet, but in due time I’m probably going to tell him something,” Tracy said with a smile. “You guys can take an educated guess on that, but I’d say you’d be close to being right.

“I enjoy every day with this young man. I really do. He has a presence about him. It’s not a feel-good statement on my part. It’s an observation — this guy brings the attention to himself that you would look to see an individual look to take on. It’s not that he’s doing something to grab somebody’s attention or he needs attention. He’s a presence.”

Jimenez taking the opener is by no means a stretch. He emerged as the best pitcher on the staff last year, finished 15-12 with a 3.47 ERA (a record for a Rockies starter), and received the Game 1 nod in the National League Division Series.

Notes: De La Rosa wants to stay

Here are some early Spring Training thoughts:

– Lefty Jorge De La Rosa, who led the Rockies in wins last season with 16, can become a free agent at season’s end. De La Rosa said his ambition is to have a strong year to earn the right to stay with Colorado. 

– Left-hander Jeff Francis not only is healthy after missing last year with shoulder problems, but he’s actually ahead of many of the other pitchers because of the intense offseason work. Francis faced hitters in the Dominican Republic a few weeks ago.

– Righty Greg Reynolds, the team’s top pick in the 2006 Draft, underwent surgery after the season to correct an issue with his labrum. Almost amazingly so, Reynolds is healthy enough to begin the spring without restrictions. Pitching coach Bob Apodaca said Reynolds’ motion — which the club believes was at the root of his troubles — has cleaned up considerably.

– The Rockies will have 32 pitchers in camp. Righty Taylor Buchholz, who underwent Tommy John elbow ligament transfer surgery last season and hopes to return to the Majors in June, is the only pitcher not healthy enough to be a factor.

Apodaca said right-handed reliever Casey Weathers, the top pick in 2007, was not invited to Major League camp so he could have a little more time to make sure his elbow is healthy. Weathers missed last season because of Tommy John surgery.

– Lefty Christian Friedrich, the team’s top choice in 2008, said being invited to this camp gives him the opportunity to closely study Francis’ delivery.

 

Redding provides pitching reinforcement

The Rockies’ signing of right-hander Tim Redding to a Minor League conract with an invitation to Major League camp gives the pitching staff a much-needed veteran reinforcement.

The Rockies go into Spring Training with a rotation already penciled — left-handers Jeff Francis and Jorge De La Rosa, and right-handers Aaron Cook, Ubaldo Jimenez and Jason Hammel. But that apple cart could be upset if Francis needs extra time early in the year, after missing last year because of shoulder surgery, or one of the others is hurt or struggles.

Redding, 32, provides an experienced option. If he pitches well and makes the club, he could fill the role the club envisioned for Jose Contreras, who instead signed with the Phillies. After Redding, the most-experienced option is lefty Greg Smith, who missed last season with various illnesses and ailments. Smith threw 190 1/3 innings as a rookie with the Athletics in 2008.

Street set to pitch … if something goes wrong

This is the day that right-handed reliever Huston Street is supposed to return to action, but manager Jim Tracy said there’s a good chance it won’t happen.

Tracy doesn’t want Street’s first action to be in a close game. But with the Rockies starting righty Ubaldo Jimenez and the D-backs going with Dan Haren, it’s likely to be a cloe, low-scoring game.

“I’d like to see the game be somewhat one-sided, one way or the other to try this out,” Tracy said.

Tracy added that Street didn’t look bad in Friday afternoon’s simulated game, but he was not as sharp as he would need to be in a close game. How long will it take for him to regain the sharpness? Tracy said it may take as litle as one game.

But once Street is determined ready, expect him to be moved back into the closer role, with lefty Franklin Morales becoming a key setup man.

One question for Sunday was the availability of righty setup man Rafael Betancourt, who was dealing with soreness in his right calf. Tracy said he was relieved the problem wasn’t with hit right groin. While with the Indians, before being traded to the Rockies in July, Betancourt missed six weeks with a groin strain.

On-base machine Smith to lead off

To give Dexter Fowler a day off, the Rockies are starting Seth Smith as the leadoff man for Thursday’s deciding game of three with the Rays. Smith will play left field, and Carlos Gonzalez will play the centre field that Fowler usually roams. The numbers certainly support putting Smith atop the order.

Smith’s pinch-hit single Wednesday night improved his on-base percentage for he season to .423. He has reached in 14 of his 26 pinch-hit appearances.

“First and foremost, he knows what a strike and what a ball looks like, and he will not expand his strike zone,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “He doesn’t chase a lot.”

For a young player, Smith has a veteran’s knack for pinch-hitting and situational hitting.

“I see an an awareness as to what his responsibilities are for a given situation,” Tracy said. “For example, you’re leading an inning off as a pinch-hitter off the bench, we’re down by a run. He’ll show you the presence of mind of understanding, ‘I’m here to do anything I can do to get to first base.’”

Here are today’s lineups:

Rays

B.J. Upton, CF

Carl Crawford, LF

Evan Longoria, 3B

Carlos Pena, 1B

Ben Zobrist, 2B

Gabe Gross, RF

Jason Bartlett, SS

Dioner Navarro, C

Matt Garza, P

Rockies

Seth Smith, LF

Clint Barmes, 2B

Todd Helton, 1B

Brad Hawpe, RF

Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Ian Stewart, 3B

Carlos Gonzalez, CF

Paul Phillips, C

Ubaldo Jimenez, P

 

Helton has Sunday off

Rockies manager Jim Tracy looked at the schedule and saw, well, a lot of games. this is the seventh game of an 11-game, 11-day road trip. when the Rockies dome home, they play three with the Mariners before finally getting their first day off since May 28. So, Sunday is as good a time as any to sit first baseman Todd Helton, who was 1-for-6 in the first two games with the Cardinals. Sunday is Helton’s first game out of the starting lineup since May 17 at Pittsburgh.

Here are Sunday’s lineups:

Rockies

Dexter Fowler, CF

Clint Barmes, 2B

Brad Hawpe, RF

Garrett Atkins, 1B

Ian Stewart, 3B

Carlos Gonzalez, LF

Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Paul Phillips, C

Ubaldo Jimenez, P

Cardinals

Skip Schumaker, 2B

Colby Rasmus, CF

Albert Pujols, 1B

Rick Ankiel, RF

Chris Duncan, LF

Yadier Molina, C

Joe Thurston, 3B

Brendan Ryan, SS

Joel Piniero, P

 

 

Same as it ever was … or not

Nice little fact about the Rockies. Their 18-27 record going into Wednesday afternoon’s game with the Dodgers is the exact same mark as at this point last year. It’s also the same mark they had in 2007.

But this year’s mark is worse than the previous two.

All it takes is a look at the National League West standings. In 2007, they were seven games of the pace. Last year, they were 10 1/2.

This time, they’re 13 games behind the first-place Dodgers.

That’s not saying there’s no hope, but might as well put the figure, and the Rockies’ challenge, into perspective. It’s why the Rockies are facing desperation, why manager Clint Hurdle’s future employment is a subject of local speculation.

Here are Wednesday afternoon’s lineups:

Dodgers

Juan Pierre, LF

Mark Loretta, 3B

Orlando Hudson, 2B

James Loney, 1B

Russell Martin, C

Andre Ethier, RF

Matt Kemp, CF

Juan Castro, SS

Clayton Kershaw, P

Rockies

Dexter Fowler, CF

Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Todd Helton, 1B

Matt Murton, LF

Ryan Spilborghs, RF

Clint Barmes, 2B

Paul Phillips, C

Ubaldo Jimenez, P

 

 

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