On Sunday, Cleveland Indians pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez hit star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies with a pitch. Major League Baseball worked quickly and according to a tweet from Troy Renck “One errant pitch costs Ubaldo five games. #Indians starter suspended and fined. No Rockies disciplined” The two of course used to be teammates as Jimenez started his career with the Rockies and was traded to the Indians during the 2011 season at the trade deadline.
When ESPN was able to air the video of Tulowitzki being hit. The report stated that “these two have had bad blood ever since the pitcher left Colorado.” Yet, according to the Associated Press article on the situation it clearly states that “Jimenez said he’d never had a problem with Tulowitzki.” What is mentioned is that Jimenez was frustrated with the Rockies organization as he saw Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez receive contract extensions and yet wasn’t given one. Which would be frustrating for any player and this was after a 2010 season that saw Jimenez have the best season in Rockies franchise history when in 33 starts he went 19-8 with a 2.88 era, threw 221.2 innings, threw four complete games with two shutouts, notched a no hitter and struck out 214 while walking 92.
In 2011 before he was traded Jimenez dealt with injuries and in 21 starts went 6-9 with a 4.46 era, threw 123 innings, had two complete games and a shutout and struck out 118 while walking 51.
While the frustration angle makes for an intriguing story it really serves no purpose except to add fuel to a fire that’s not there. After watching the clip a number of times, it does not appear that Tulowitzki was hit intentionally by Jimenez. There was a similar type of hit batter today that happened involving the Seattle Mariners and the Rockies. Mariners phenom Jesus Montero was hit in the helmet by a pitch from Edgmer Escalona and yet there will be no questions about whether Montero being hit was intentional or not and the same can be said about the pitch from Jimenez.
Jimenez throughout the game on Sunday had a hard time finding the plate and according to the AP article, Jimenez walked the first batter he faced on four pitches. The box score from the game indicate he went 4.1 innings and gave up four hits, while allowing six runs and all were earned, he struck out two and walked five. That is a clear indication that Jimenez had a difficult time finding the strike zone throughout the course of his outing, which makes this quote even more believable “It was the first inning and I didn’t have good control of my fastball. ”
More importantly though on why it made no sense for MLB to suspend Jimenez is because of the umpires. The man behind the plate felt that there was no intent on the part of Jimenez and even after both benches were cleared, there were no ejections.
What got Jimenez the suspension was the reaction by Rockies manager Jim Tracy who stated “the most gutless act I’ve seen in 35 years in the game, that’s what I saw.” Tracy also said “five days before opening day, you’re going to take a pot shot like that? It’s the worst I’ve ever seen. I’ve lost all respect for him, and that’s a very difficult thing for me to say with all the players I’ve had to manage over the years. ”
This was not like Vicente Padilla purposefully hitting batters and Tracy definitely had a right to be upset after watching Tulowtzki get hit, the reality is Tracy overreacted with his comments and by his demand of Jimenez to be suspended. With those comments made it meant that MLB had to act. That is why Jimenez was suspended the five games, yet it won’t be surprising to see Jimenez appeal and at least get his suspensions reduced. Meaning that he is not likely to miss any of his schedule starts.
Rather than appease Tracy, MLB should have looked into what actually happened. That is Jimenez was struggling with his control, hit Tulowitzki, benches cleared with no ejections from any of the umpires and more importantly the umpires did not see any intent of Jimenez to hit Tulowitzki and in that outing against the Rockies, Jimenez struggled finding the plate. That evidence hardly justifies a five game suspension being handed out to Jimenez.
Here’s the tweet from Renck announcing the suspension: