Ubaldo Jimenez got off to just about the best start you could ever ask for last season, giving up a grand total of five runs over his first seven starts. However, in yesterday’s 7-6 loss to the Diamondbacks, it took Jimenez just six innings to give up five runs.
Bad starts happen, of course, but the most troubling part about Jimenez’s performance was the general lack of velocity and movement on his pitches. According to Brooks Baseball, the 26-year-old right-hander topped out at 95.1 mph and averaged 93.36 mph yesterday, more than a couple ticks down from his 96.1 mph average from last season. After averaging 8.69 K/9 last season, Jimenez struck out just one batter yesterday. The fewest he struck out last year in a start was two. And while it’s not a major part of his arsenal, Jimenez threw just four curveballs in the entire game.
I’m not a scout or anything — just a fan here — but even Jimenez admitted to Thomas Harding of MLB.com that he “didn’t have anything working.”
So, what’s going on here? It’s probably a bit too soon to panic, but Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero had some interesting comments following the extra-inning victory.
“I noticed when he threw me a couple of fastballs, it was kind of weird,” said Montero, who doubled in the second inning and has homered on three of his five career hits against Jimenez. “I don’t know, honestly. I don’t think he was throwing that hard. I wonder if he’s all right.”
It turns out he wasn’t completely himself. According to Troy Renck of the Denver Post, Rockies pitching coach Bob Apodaca confirmed that Jimenez cut his finger during the team’s open workout Thursday. Both Jimenez and Apodaca downplayed the injury following the game and he’s still expected to make his next start. Hopefully this is just a situation where he just couldn’t get his usual grip on the baseball. The Rockies need Jimenez to be himself in order to have a legitimate shot to win the NL West.
Josh Hamilton is not and never was a key part of the 2017 Texas Rangers plans. He was in camp and under contract and had at least a chance to make the team, but the Rangers fate as a ballclub did not depend on him. It would merely be nice for them if he revealed that he had a bit left in the tank and if he could, like a lot of other superstars in baseball history, give them one last season of decent production in part time play as a matter of depth and flexibility.
As such, this development is more unfortunate for Josh Hamilton and those who root for him than it is for the Rangers as a club, but it is unfortunate all the same:
That’s the fourth surgery he’s had on that knee in less than two years and the 11th knee surgery he’s had overall in his baseball career. It’s sad to say but safe to say that Hamilton’s days in baseball are numbered if not over completely. At some point an athlete’s body can only take so much.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.