Ubaldo Jimenez faced his former team in his final spring start, and there were fireworks from the beginning. Jimenez and his former teammates Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez had been sniping back and forth via the Denver media this spring, and Jimenez took things beyond words by hitting Tulowitzi on the elbow in the first inning. The game was not televised in either market, but the Cleveland radio guys seemed convinced that the pitch was intentional, as did Tulowitzki and the Rockies bench. The Colorado shortstop started towards the mound, and the former teammates exchanged heated words, and both benches cleared. Neither player was thrown out, but Tulowitzki was removed from the game because his elbow was swelling up. X-rays thankfully revealed no structural damage to Tulowitzki's elbow.
After the game, Jimenez denied that he was trying to throw at Tulowitzki:
"I didn't have good control of my fastball," Jimenez said. "You guys could see. I walked the first guy probably on four pitches. [Tulowitzki] is one of the best hitters in the game. You have to try to go inside on him and that's what I tried to do."
Given how Jimenez pitched the rest of the game, I guess this explanation is plausible. But it's one heck of a coincidence. Rockies manager Jim Tracy, however, didn't feel the same way:
"If there's any suggestion that the ball got away, I don't want to hear any of that," Tracy said. "[It's] the most gutless act I've seen in 35 years in the game."
The Rockies and Indians won't play again this season unless it's in the World Series, and I think that's probably a good thing for all involved.
But more distressing to me was the rest of Jimenez's outing. He didn't have control of his pitches yet again, walking five batters and giving up two home runs. He failed to finished the fifth inning again, a bad sign for a pitcher who had problems going deep into games last season.
But hey, the Indians actually won the game, their first win in eleven games. Both Travis Hafner and Shelley Duncan hit grand slams off former Cleveland pitchers, Pronk hitting his off Jeremy Guthrie, Duncan off Alex White. Hafner's good spring has been one of the few bright spots in Arizona, and Duncan, although he won the left field job by default, hasn't shown any signs that the end of 2011 was a fluke.
Nothing is official, but based on the people reporting it, I think it's going to happen. If the details are correct, the extension will buy out one free agent season, making Cabrera a free agent after 2014. The two-year contract would leave this season's $4.55M intact, and would kick in in 2013. Cabrera would be the first Indian to have a guaranteed 2013 contract.
My first blush is that it's a fair deal for both sides. Cabrera would be 28 at the end of the deal, making him young enough to get a long-team deal on the free agent market. The Indians would keep Cabrera a season longer than they otherwise would, but without too much risk. It's still an open question whether Asdrubal can stay at shortstop, so the contract isn't long enough to cause much pain if the Indians have to move him to a less difficult position.