GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Ubaldo Jimenez said he's usually not very good in Spring Training, and that might explain why he was all smiles after another rough Cactus League outing.
Jimenez gave up a leadoff home run to Brandon Phillips in Saturday's 9-2 loss to the Reds, and he ended up allowing six runs on five hits while throwing over 80 pitches in 3 2/3 innings. His spring ERA is now 9.31, and he's walked nine batters and struck out six in four games.
"I was a little bit out of control," Jimenez said. "I was fighting behind in the count a lot, but I think I got better in the last two innings. I've probably had one good Spring Training. The other ones have taken a little bit longer to [get where I want to be].
"As a pitcher, you don't want to go out there and let anybody score, but it's a not the same as the season, to tell you the truth. ... I'm working more about trying to be consistent, trying to throw this pitch or that pitch. I'm trying to get better and better, trying to get my work in.
"Hopefully they score all the runs here in Spring Training."
Indians manager Manny Acta said he's looking forward to seeing Jimenez snap out of this funk, and soon.
"We've got three more outings to go," Acta said. "I think in the next three outings we'll be able to see whether we're going to get worried or what, because it's time to get it in gear.
"He threw some good pitches at times, but still, the command wasn't there at all. You need to get through four innings with less than 80 pitches."
Kotchman ready to return from back soreness
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Casey Kotchman didn't seem terribly concerned about the lower back soreness that kept him out of a seventh consecutive game Saturday afternoon, and rightfully so.
The veteran is slated to be back in the lineup and at first base on Sunday against Kansas City.
There has been no MRI exam, there has been no cortisone shot, and, for Kotchman, there didn't seem to be any doubt that he was fine.
"It's responded favorably to the treatment," Kotchman said. "I'm excited to get back out there."
Kotchman's woes started when he woke up March 9 with the soreness, something he said he's never experienced before. But through massage and core-strengthening exercises, he's seen improvement each day.
Kotchman took batting practice on Friday, fielded ground balls and played catch again Saturday for the fourth day in a row. After Saturday's 9-2 loss to the Reds, Indians manager Manny Acta confirmed that Kotchman was a go for Sunday.
More good news: there are two weeks left of Cactus League play, which means Kotchman should be in line for a healthy complement of at-bats to hone his timing at the plate in preparation for Opening Day.
"There's enough time to be ready for when the bell rings," Kotchman said.
Hagadone getting the job done in relief
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- He's been in the Major Leagues before, so Nick Hagadone understands the intensity.
The left-handed reliever, who's competing for one of what Indians manager Manny Acta has said are two openings in the bullpen, has made sure that every moment on the mound this spring carries extra weight.
"I wouldn't say I feel pressure, but you know that every time you're out there it matters," Hagadone said. "It really helps me to be on top of my game every time I'm out there because every pitch I throw means something."
Hagadone hasn't disappointed. The 26-year-old, who came to the Indians from the Red Sox as a Minor Leaguer in the 2009 deal that sent former Tribe catcher Victor Martinez to Boston, has put up the best numbers of any of the bullpen contenders. He pitched a scoreless inning in Friday's loss to the Angels and has compiled a spring ERA of 1.50.
Hagadone said his experience making it to the Majors last year has helped him be more comfortable in his surroundings in his second big league camp. Hagadone was called up to Cleveland last September and went 1-0 with a 4.09 ERA in nine games.
He said he understands it's very possible that he could begin the year with Triple-A Columbus, and that he'd have a plan once he got there.
"I would do my work and work on getting better," Hagadone said. "It wouldn't change my attitude at all."
Closer Chris Perez (strained left side) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Sunday but will add sliders to the mix. He threw only fastballs on Friday in his first bullpen since hurting his side on Feb. 23.
Injured relievers Rafael Perez (left shoulder soreness) and Robinson Tejeda (strained right calf) are scheduled to pitch in a Minor League game Sunday.
Right-hander Carlos Carrasco, who underwent Tommy John surgery last Sept. 21, stretched his throwing program from 75 to 90 feet this week.