Notes: Stretch suits Jimenez just fine
Rockies righty puts control issues behind him in strong start
TUCSON, Ariz. -- It's hard to find Ubaldo Jimenez without a grin on his face. After Saturday's four scoreless innings against the Angels, the smile was even bigger than usual.Jimenez's joy came not only from the fact he picked up his first spring win of the year, but because he did so while improving on the one flaw that seemed to give him the most trouble in his last start -- keeping his control while pitching out of the stretch. "I was trying to go too fast [to home plate in Tuesday's loss to the Kansas City Royals]," said Jimenez, who pitched out of the stretch in three of his four innings Saturday with no problems. He did have one hit batsmen and a wild pitch, but his performance would hardly be characterized as one with control issues. "I didn't think it was as rushed," Rockies pitching coach Bob Apodaca said of Jimenez's pitching with runners were on base. "He did a good job of varying his times and his looks without trying to be rushed to the plate. As the game unfolded from the first inning, every inning improved. He got ahead. I think he was 10 of 16 first-pitch strikes." On Tuesday, Jimenez allowed three Royals runners to steal a base and showed he had a problem locating the strike zone while pitching out of the stretch with runners on. On Saturday, he got out of the first, second and fourth innings with ease after runners reached base. In the third, Jimenez retired the side in order. Apodaca said Jimenez still needs to improve on putting batters away when he has two strikes on them, noting several Angels hitters prolonged at-bats with foul tips and taking pitches off the strike zone. Jimenez's ERA dropped from 9.00 to 3.86 with Saturday's outing.
Cook on schedule, Hirsh not: Apodaca said Saturday No. 2 starter Aaron Cook is back on schedule to make his next scheduled start on Wednesday at Tucson Electric Park against the White Sox.Soreness in Cook's arm forced the 29-year-old to be scratched from Friday's start against the Royals in Surprise, Ariz. Instead, Cook stayed in Tucson and went through one of his normal off-day routines and reported no pain. "That's his usual routine between starts is to play long toss and he'll have a side [session on Sunday]," Apodaca said. "He's right on schedule for his next start on [Wednesday]." Jason Hirsh, meanwhile, is shut down for a couple of days with arm soreness and will miss his second consecutive start on Sunday.
He played catch with Cook on Friday, but still felt pain in his arm, and while he doesn't think the injury is a serious one, there is no timetable for his return.Old reliable: Matt Herges is scheduled to see his fourth game action of the spring on Sunday against the Giants in Scottsdale. The 37-year-old reliever hasn't had stellar numbers this spring, but his preparedness for the season isn't a concern for Apodaca. "He's a pro," Apodaca said. "He knows what he needs to do -- pitch one inning, pitch two innings, come back a couple days later and he'll pitch an inning. You give him a day off and he's refreshed again. He's done this several Spring Trainings now, so he knows the amount of work he needs." A glimpse of the past: Scott Podsednik reached on a grounder to center field in the bottom of the third inning, then stole second base off Angels pitcher Nick Green, putting a runner in scoring position with no outs. Although the sequence didn't result in a run for the Rockies, it was a glimpse of what made Podsednik so dangerous with the White Sox from 2003-2006, when he averaged 53 stolen bases per season, including six stolen bases in Chicago's postseason run to the World Series in 2005. Saturday marked Podsednik's third stolen base in five spring games. He stole just 12 in 62 games with the White Sox in 2007. Up next: The Rockies travel to Scottsdale on Sunday to play the Giants at 2:05 p.m. MT. Franklin Morales is the scheduled starter after Hirsh was scratched with a sore shoulder. For the Giants, lefty Patrick Misch will see action for the fourth time this spring.
Geoff Grammer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.