Jimenez flashes elite stuff in MLB debut

Jimenez flashes elite stuff in MLB debut

DETROIT -- Joe Jimenez's Major League debut will be remembered as a brief glimpse of his potential, a rare bright spot on a cold, dreary Thursday afternoon amidst the Tigers' 11-5 loss to the Twins at Comerica Park. It was brief not only because Jimenez retired the bottom of the Minnesota lineup in order in the ninth, but because he was optioned back to Triple-A Toledo right after the game.

The very setup that led to Jimenez finally getting to pitch -- a lopsided game in which both starter Jordan Zimmermann and long reliever Anibal Sanchez were roughed up -- also led to Jimenez getting sent down to make room for another long reliever in William Cuevas.

"That was the type of game to get his feet wet," manager Brad Ausmus said. "Not a lot on the line."

Jimenez had to accept it, but he made his impact while he could.

With temperatures dropping into the upper 40s and a wind chill numbing fingers, the Tigers' fifth-ranked prospect by MLBPipeline.com did not have his upper-90s fastball on display, settling for a mid-90s version he could control. But his work with secondary pitches -- a challenge the Tigers issued to him in order to make the jump -- was apparent.

Chris Gimenez, the first batter to face Jimenez, laid off the slider but flew out on a 94 mph fastball.

"I've never faced Ubaldo, so this was my first at-bat against a Jimenez," Gimenez said. "I was pretty excited, especially against a new kid, until they told me he threw 98 with a nasty slider. That wasn't as exciting."

Jimenez dusted off his third pitch, a changeup, to get a swing-and-miss from Eddie Rosario before he popped out to deep short. Byron Buxton, who fell into an 0-2 hole on fastballs, laid off one slider before chasing another one off the plate.

Jimenez, speaking through a translator, said he was calm the whole time, having learned from his experience pitching for Puerto Rico at the World Baseball Classic. He said he understood the move back to Triple-A, saying it's a business, but that he learned a lot in the few days he was up.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.