Saturday's Rockies Report: Jimenez Hits a Pot Hole in the Road to His Return
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Nobody said it was going to be easy.
At the age of 36, Ubaldo Jimenez wants to make a comeback in Major League Baseball.
He sat out the last two seasons -- because of pregnancy complications for his wife in 2018 and last year because of a lack of legitimate interest from teams -- but got the urge to be back on the mound against last August.
That led to a strong workout program followed by a quick refresher course the Dominican Winter League this past winter when he worked 29 2/3 innings in eight starts for the Tigres del Licey.
He is optimistic about what the future might hold, but also realistic.
This return to the big leagues isn't going to happen overnight. As big-league hitters are proving, spring training or regular season, there are challenges ahead for Jimenez. That's why when he signed a minor-league contract with the Rockies earlier this year, an invitation to big-league spring training was included, but so was his acceptance of the fact he most likely will be with Triple-A Albuquerque when the season starts, if he still wants to pursue a big-league return.
"Even though he pitched winter ball it is a process coming back," said manager Bud Black. "There is going to be arm strength build up. There is getting that feel back. There are all those things that go into getting back on your feet. It is going to take time. It's a normal process but for him to get to where he wants to be there is going to have to be multiple starts, multiple innings pitched. It's going to take awhile.
Making his second start and third appearance of the spring in the Rockies 7-1 loss to the Dodgers on Saturday was a reminder.
He threw 50-plus pitches, retiring only four batters. He was charged with all seven runs, four of which were unearned, but also gave up five hits, including a home run to Max Muncy.
Three batters into the game the challenge that awaits Jimenez in his attempted comeback was obvious, he hit two batters and walked one.
He walked Gavin Lux on four pitches to open the inning, and then struck out Muncy, who chased an 0-2 pitch in the dirt that resulted in a wild-pitch and ensuing throwing error by catcher Tony Wolters, allowing Lux to reach third. Then, on a 1-2 pitch, Cody Bellinger swung and missed at a hard slider that eluded Wolters for a passed ball and allowed not only Bellinger to reach first but Lux to score the first run in what became a five-run inning.
"It was crazy," said Jimenez. "I hit two guys with two strikes. Too many pitches in the first inning. It's part of the game. There's nothing I can do about it now. I just have to get ready for the next time."
-- Rockies relievers Tim Collins, Daniel Bard, Yency Almonte, and Joe Harvey all turned in 1-2-3 innings
-- Jake McGee and Yency Almonte also worked a shutout inning in relief, but both gave up a single.
-- Nolan Arenado hit his fourth home run of Spring Training. He has had more than four home runs during Spring three times in his career; in 2015 (five), 2016 (six) and 2019 (five).
-- Elias Díaz recorded the other hit for the Rockies today, a line-drive single up the middle off of Dodgers right-handed reliever Joe Kelly. Diaz is 9-for-19 (.364) in Cactus League play.
The Rockies host the Cleveland Indians at Salt River Field on Sunday at 1:10 p.m., MST.
Right-handed pitchers Ashton Goudeau, Carlos Estevez, Wade Davis and Bryan Shaw are scheduled to pitch for the Rockies.
Right-handers James Karinchak, Cam Hill, Dom Leone, Jared Robinson and Argenis Angulo are scheduled to pitch for the Indians.