Manager Terry Francona said Monday that pitching coach Mickey Callaway discovered an element in the right-hander’s mechanics that wasn’t present during his successful days in Colorado.
According to Francona, Jimenez’s windup has slowed almost a full second from his time with the Rockies. The Indians believe if things are sped up a bit, it will benefit Jimenez, who has struggled to a 13-21 record and 5.32 ERA in 42 starts since arriving in Cleveland during the 2011 season. He went 56-45 with a 3.66 ERA in 138 games for Colorado from 2006-11.
Jimenez, 29, has also seen his velocity drop since joining the Indians.
“I think he got out of sorts in his delivery,” Francona said. “I think he tried to pick up some velocity and got longer in his delivery. I think what we’ve tried to explain to him is ‘just do your thing and pound it down and that’s good enough.’
“I think what you’re going to see is when he gets his mechanics in order, I think you’re going to see velocity spike up a little bit, and even if it doesn’t, what he has is good enough.”
“That’s what I’m going to be working on the whole spring training until I get it done,” Jimenez said of the windup adjustment.
Callaway has been working closely with Jimenez, even visiting the pitcher on a handful of occasions in the Dominican Republic this offseason — once with Francona. Callaway is Jimenez’s fourth pitching coach with the Indians.
“What I’m really happy about is that I think (Jimenez) and Mickey are really building a rapport that’s really important,” Francona said. “You can tell that there’s a trust building there.”
Last year was supposed to be a bounce-back season for Jimenez, who predicted as much before struggling to a 9-17 record and 5.40 ERA.
“I tried to forget about it,” Jimenez said. “Baseball’s really hard. If you put too many things in your head, you’re gonna go crazy.”
Jimenez looked smooth in his exhibition debut Monday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, where he worked two scoreless innings and allowed two hits and a walk.
“I thought Ubaldo had a lot of life on his fastball,” Francona said. “I think it’s progress.”
“I felt really good,” said Jimenez, who struck out two. “I took a load off my shoulders, because last year in spring training, I couldn’t do anything right.”
While managing the split-squad Indians at Maryvale on Sunday, Francona missed the exhibition debut of Daisuke Matsuzaka, who tossed two scoreless innings against the Reds in Goodyear.
“(The reports) said he was pretty good,” Francona said.
Matsuzaka’s velocity was around 92-96 mph during his best days with the Red Sox, but he didn’t reach 90 mph with any of his pitches Sunday.
“It’s a little early,” Francona said. “(Velocity is) not the end all be all, but I certainly look at it.”
Should I stay?
It’s make or break time for outfielder Ezequiel Carrera, who is out of minor league options and trying to make the roster as a bench player. If he doesn’t make the club, Carrera, who hit .272 with two homers, 11 RBIs and eight stolen bases in 48 games for Cleveland last year, will likely be lost on waivers.
“It’s an important answer we have to find out this spring,” Francona said. “He’s potentially a very good fit on our ballclub and we need to find out. We don’t doubt for one second that we’d lose him. There’s a lot to like.”
The Indians sold out their home opener — April 8 against the Yankees — for the 21st consecutive season. It took just six minutes, which accounted for one of the fastest sellouts in franchise history. … Cleveland entered Monday with a 4-0 record after winning just seven of 29 exhibition games last spring. … Today, 3:05 p.m. vs. Kansas City Royals at Goodyear Ballpark. Indians.com (live). Matt Albers (0-0, 36.00 ERA) vs. Wade Davis (0-0, 0.00).