Manager Jim Tracy understood. His team put aside the distraction of seeing Jimenez struggle through the first inning then saying goodbye in the dugout, and beat the Padres, 10-6, on Saturday evening. But afterward, Tracy's voice broke.
"It's really hard," Tracy said. "His body of work. ... Look at what he's done going back to 2009. I understand the things that we're doing. But that doesn't make it just very simple to say goodbye to somebody that has meant as much to this organization and to myself personally as a manager.
"What I always fall back on in relation to something like this is time will heal. There's probably going to be, moving forward, a lot of special things that will come as a result."
The Rockies received three key pitchers -- 2010 top pick Drew Pomeranz, 2009 No. 1 pick Alex White and 2009 third-round pick Joe Gardner -- and a hitter, Matt McBride, who began his career as a catcher but has played first base and outfield the past couple of seasons. Pomeranz, Gardner and McBride were at Double-A Akron. White saw brief action in the Majors and Triple-A and was about to begin a rehab assignment at Akron for a right middle finger injury.
Jimenez said he understood what the deal means to the Rockies' future. But he took some moments to thank Tracy for helping him build a future. In 2009 after Tracy took over for Clint Hurdle as manager, Tracy called in Jimenez and told him he would treat him like an ace.
"He has a lot of passion for the game, and I like that," Jimenez said. "Jim Tracy was the one who gave me the opportunity to be who I am today.
"When he got to be the manager, the first thing he did was take me into his office and tell me, 'I'm going to leave you to win or lose the game. I want you to be there. I want you to be that pitcher.' I love him as a father. I really appreciate everything he did for me."
The Rockies expected to contend for a World Series title but here they are, heading into Sunday's 2 p.m. MT non-waiver Trade Deadline 10 games behind the National League West-leading Giants. Right-handed reliever Rafael Betancourt, who like Jimenez has struggled at times this year but has big-game ability, and two underperforming position players, catcher Chris Iannetta and third baseman Ian Stewart, seem to top the list of players who potentially will be dealt.
So there is logic to dealing Jimenez, who because of his ability and a contract that pays him a below-market $17.95 million through 2014, attracted a nice package. But veteran first baseman Todd Helton admitted he didn't expect action after all the talk.
"Very surprised," Helton said. "Obviously, we all heard everything that was said. But I really don't think it's going to happen until it does."
Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has said throughout the season that if the team didn't perform to expectations, players would be departing. Tulowitzki, signed through 2020, chose to look at the future, thanks to the highly touted pitching prospects.
"If you'd have asked me last year I wouldn't have said that [Jimenez would not be traded], but this year he hasn't performed up to his expectations, up to ours, and things happen in this game," Tulowitzki said. "You move on from it. Things happen for a reason.
"We wish him well over there. From what I understand, we have some good, young guys coming in that I'm excited about. We can't get down here and be upset at all. We look at the pitchers we got in return. They're going to be real good for us. I know a couple of them. They're going to be real good for us, and real good for a long time."
A big part of the Rockies future remains three key Latin American pitchers -- Venezuela's Jhoulys Chacin and the Dominican Republic's Esmil Rogers and Juan Nicasio. Jimenez, from the Dominican Republic, made it first, and devoted time to helping younger players. Jimenez has given pitching advice, pushed younger players to learn English, and even impressed upon players the need to diversify their diets.
Rogers replaced Jimenez after the first inning on Saturday and earned a win by holding the Padres to one hit and one run in five innings, with four strikeouts. He said it will be odd not having Jimenez around in person, but he'll always be around as far as Rogers is concerned.
"He talked to me a lot and helped me in everything -- talking to me about the hitters, how to pitch, everything," Rogers said. "Right now, I have to keep everything he told me and keep talking to him. He doesn't play with us, but I'll keep talking to him, anyway."
Veteran pitcher Aaron Cook said, "We all knew about his power arm and great stuff, but he was one the best players and best teammates I've been around. He was polite to everybody, wanting to help everybody out. He was a great teammate."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less