CHICAGO -- The Indians hoped they had landed an ace when they swung the blockbuster trade last summer to acquire starter Ubaldo Jimenez. Instead, Cleveland inherited a project that has persisted into the second month of the pitcher's second season with the club.
After Jimenez's latest effort, Tribe manager Manny Acta admitted that the right-hander is working on a mechanical adjustment that the Indians hope will lead to better results. Jimenez added that the wave of woes that have dogged him since his arrival to Cleveland have been hard to handle at times.
"It's not easy. It's not easy to take," Jimenez said. "The only thing is I'm going to keep working on it, and I know it's going to be for my own good and for the team. Once I get it, it's going to be there. I won't have to be worrying about it anymore."
The mechanical tweak involves Jimenez's left shoulder. While poring over video roughly a week ago, Indians pitching coach Scott Radinsky noticed that Jimenez's lead shoulder was dropping more than in the past. Specifically, Radinsky was comparing footage from the past two years to video from Jimenez's stellar 2010 campaign.
Jimenez has been working hard in his side sessions on getting back to his prior form.
"It's not only [about velocity]," Jimenez said. "It's trying to get myself in a better position to deliver the ball. That's something I haven't been doing. My front shoulder has been too open, so I'm trying to work on creating torque and power out of it. That's something I did before."
In Tuesday's 7-2 loss to the White Sox, Jimenez threw just 54 of his 105 pitches for strikes in a 4 2/3-inning performance. On the season, the righty has a 5.02 ERA with more walks (20) than strikeouts (14) in 28 2/3 innings. His averages of 9.4 hits, 6.3 walks and 4.4 strikeouts per nine innings are all on pace for the worst marks of his career.
Beyond that, Jimenez's velocity on each of his pitches has dropped significantly for the second season in a row. His fastball is down to 92 mph on average after being a big league-best 96.1 mph in 2010. As a result, hitters are making better contact (85 percent of the time) and Jimenez is getting fewer swings-and-misses (10 percent) than in the past.
"He's had some mechanical adjustments to make," Acta said. "He's working on it. Obviously, that's the reason why some stuff like his velocity and his command hasn't been the same. He's aware of it and he's working on it. It's very easy to see it and to hear it, but it's kind of tougher to actually get them done. It's about muscle memory and repetition.