CLEVELAND: Ubaldo Jimenez is the talk of the town, and that’s not a good thing.
As he walked off the field Tuesday night, unable to finish the second inning, boos accompanied his every step, and it’s difficult to blame the fans for their disaffection with the pitcher labeled the No. 2 starter in the Indians’ rotation.
The season is still in its infant stages, but it’s impossible to avoid the feeling that the start of the 2013 season is only a continuation of Jimenez’s 2012 season, when he posted a 9-17 record, 5.40 ERA and ended up at or near the bottom in every important pitching category in the American League.
In his past two starts, Jimenez has given up seven runs to the New York Yankees and seven runs to the Boston Red Sox, pitching a total of six innings.
Against the Yankees, he was throwing 88 mph fastballs; against the Red Sox, he was hitting 94 on the radar gun but walked five in one inning. So go figure. That’s what Indians manager Terry Francona and pitching coach Mickey Callaway are trying to do.
Many fans are fed up with Jimenez’s 1½-year history of failure in Cleveland and advocate dumping him, one way or another.
“If you’re not patient,” Francona said, “you wouldn’t have a team, coaches or a manager. We want him to get better not get rid of him.
“In general, if you start to get rid of pitchers [early], when you get into June, July and August, you might not have any.”
So Jimenez will continue to work between starts with Callaway on throwing the ball downhill in the strike zone and making sure that his front foot is pointed toward the plate when he lets go of the ball.
Because Jimenez is not one to wear his emotions on his sleeve and always is composed and pleasant during postgame interviews, some have questioned his desire.
“It’s hard to get to this level and not care,” Francona said.
Jimenez has had problems pitching out of the stretch, problems that are magnified because he has put so many runners on base.
But Francona said, “Lots of pitchers are that way,” indicating that the basis of Jimenez’s difficulties lie elsewhere.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.