Feeling that not getting enough work in the offseason led to his slow start, Ubaldo Jimenez said Thursday that he’s hoping to pitch winter ball.
Surprisingly enough, the Rockies are on board with Jimenez’s plan to pitch for the Licey Tigers this winter. Jimenez indicated that he’d likely only make a handful of starts, possibly just four.
Jimenez pitched for Licey prior to the 2010 season that he started off 15-1 for the Rockies. He was the NL’s starting pitcher in the All-Star Game that year and finished 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA.
After taking the winter off, Jimenez opened this season winless in his first nine starts. His ERA remained over 6.00 into mid-May, but he has been much better since, going 6-3 with a 2.58 ERA since the beginning of June.
Of course, while Jimenez’s December stint in the Dominican Republic looks like a go for now, things could change if the Rockies decide to trade him or if he suffers an arm injury at some point within the next couple of months. Teams tend to be shy even when it comes to letting veteran position players take part in winter ball. Veteran pitchers typically have a very difficult time getting clearance, since teams don’t like them working in games unless they can monitor them themselves.
Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.
Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.
The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.
Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.
Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.
There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.
Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.