Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 3/4/12
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- There is no worse way to spoil a glorious Arizona day, 80 degrees and a penetrating sun heating your neck like a hair dryer, than to read numbers next to your name like the ones credited to Ubaldo Jimenez. When the folks in Cleveland see those numbers, they are likely to gasp in dismay: one inning, five runs, five hits, one walk, 37 pitches. Jimenez hopes those fans relax and hopes those who watched his performance in Goodyear Ballpark against the Cincinnati Reds spread the word about how it happened during an 8-6 loss. The 6-foot-4, 218-pound Cleveland Indians right-hander, trying to wipe away a forgettable 2011 and turn things around with and for the Tribe, laid explanations at the feet of the media who watched it all unfold. Only one of those runs was earned. There were bloopers, bleeders, squibblers and an error tossed into the salad. Only one of those five hits was struck with meaningful authority. He laughed heartily and said, "It is up to you guys to say the balls were hit softly. I know it doesn't look good in the paper, but I'll forget it. Whoever knows about baseball knows things like this happen. They kept hitting bloopers and only hit the ball hard one time." His manager, Manny Acta, backed him up and covered his tracks by saying, "I felt he threw the ball well and had good stuff. You can't do anything about choppers and bloops and errors." Jimenez, 28, was a fast-rising star in 2010 for the Colorado Rockies. He was 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA, an All-Star and for quick recognition he threw a no-hitter onto his resume. Then came 2011 and an eyebrow-raising cuticle injury and a groin injury. He wobbled along with a 6-9 record and a 4.46 lERA in 21 starts for the Rockies. The Rockies traded him to the Indians at the trade deadline and matters didn't get much better -- 4-4, 5.10 ERA in 11 starts. "The difference was that I wasn't hurt (in 2010) and I was hurt last year, that was the No. 1 thing," he said. "I feel right now like I did in spring training of 2010. I feel 100 percent. Last year I wasn't." To make a mobile upward movement for the Tribe, Jimenez is making some fine-tuning in his delivery, particularly in his stride. "I didn't do it 100 percent today because this was my first game," he said. "With hitters up there, not just throwing in the bullpen, I tried to let it go a little more. It wasn't the same every time, but it was pretty close. "My stride was good, going out there and delivering the pitch," he added. "Working on my stride is a little harder from the stretch because I have to worry about the runner." Jimenez wears his baseball pants up around his knees, displaying a lot of blue sock and a pair of legs that resemble softball bats. And that's after he gained eight pounds in the offseason. "I tried to get my lower body stronger, gain a couple of pounds so I can be more consistent out there," he said. "I gained eight pounds. All muscle." Jimenez's delivery is sometimes three-quarters and sometimes sidearm, particularly on his slider. It is a delivery that evolved in 2004 when he hurt his shoulder in the minors. "It really started when I was a kid and tried to pitch like Pedro Martinez," he said with a laugh. "But it really started in 2004 and my arm hurt. I was trying to find a way to throw so my arm didn't hurt. "So that's how I started throwing that way and how I've been throwing ever since, by dropping down," he said. "I strained my shoulder." Asked if that was an improvement for him, he laughed and said, "A lot of people say no because nobody teaches that. But it has been good for me. They tried to change me in the minors but it didn't work." While Jimenez watched the Reds turnip-squeeze five runs out of him, his teammates grabbed three runs back in the bottom of the first. The Tribe is searching frantically for a left fielder and one Indians observer said, "There are 13 candidates -- and I'm not kidding." On this day, Shelley Duncan started in left field. The rap on him is that he can't hit right-handed pitchers. But facing Reds right-hander Homer Bailey in the first inning, Duncan drilled a three-run home run far over the left field wall.
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