Ubaldo appealing suspension in Tulo incident
Tribe expects right-hander to make Saturday's scheduled start
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Minutes before boarding a team bus headed to the airport, Indians manager Manny Acta stood outside his office, bags in hand, and voiced some disappointment over Major League Baseball's decision to suspend Ubaldo Jimenez for five games.
The ruling came down early Monday evening in the wake of Sunday's bench-clearing incident at Salt River Fields, when Jimenez hit Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki with a pitch to ignite an on-field altercation. After investigating the ugly episode, Jimenez was handed the suspension, along with an undisclosed fine, for his actions.
Acta said Jimenez would appeal the suspension and was still scheduled to make his first start of the season on Saturday against the Blue Jays. The players' union said in a statement Tuesday that Jimenez has requested an appeal.
Acta said before the Indians played their Class-A affiliate, the Carolina Mudcats on Tuesday, that Jimenez "is going to be able to pitch, and then we'll go from there."
Acta orginally learned of Jimenez's suspension on Monday morning.
"It's disappointing, but I'm not surprised," Acta said. "I'm just very disappointed at their inconsistency on how they make their decisions."
Acta cited a June 10 episode at Yankee Stadium, where Indians pitcher Roberto Hernandez (formerly Fausto Carmona) hit Mark Teixeira with a pitch in the second inning after giving up a home run to Curtis Granderson. The benches emptied after that errant offering, but Hernandez only received a $750 fine.
The Indians manager also referenced other incidents, but declined to mention specific names. Acta did note that one included Carlos Santana being hit by a pitch. On June 14, Tigers ace Justin Verlander hit Santana in their first meeting since the Tribe catcher launched a walk-off grand slam against Detroit in a previous series. Verlander was not punished.
There were reports that the Tigers did not like how Santana celebrated that blast.
"I thought it was worse than this situation," Acta said of the incident involving Hernandez. "Both dugouts knew they were thrown at. I raised a stink about it, but I don't know. Maybe they don't get [SportsTime Ohio] over there or whatever. I'm very disappointed at the inconsistency of their decision making."
On Monday morning, Jimenez leaned back in his chair inside the Indians' clubhouse, calmly disagreeing with the notion that a suspension was warranted for his part in Sunday's altercation with the Rockies.
In his first outing against his former teammates, Jimenez struck Tulowitzki on the left elbow with a fastball, flaring tempers and inciting a bench-clearing fracas. The pitcher insists the pitch was errant, and not the result of the bitter exchange of words in a series of reports throughout Spring Training.
"Hit by pitches happen every day in the game," Jimenez said on Monday. "It's not a surprise that somebody gets hit, especially a guy like him. You have to try to go inside on him."
There were plenty of people who felt this particular hit batsmen was indeed an intentional act. Rockies manager Jim Tracy reacted furiously, demanding that the right-hander be suspended. Colorado provided Major League Baseball with video of the incident, and league officials reviewed it over the past 24 hours.
Jimenez did not feel he deserved a suspension.
"I shouldn't be [suspended]," Jimenez said. "I can't control what people say. People act like this is the first time that somebody got hit. It happens in the game. That's part of the game. It's always been part of the game."
The Indians acquired Jimenez from the Rockies at the non-waiver Trade Deadline last July 31, when the pitcher stumbled through a 10-13 showing with a 4.68 ERA. This spring, Jimenez has criticized the Colorado organization in various reports, hinting at unfair treatment as a Minor Leaguer and a feeling of disrespect over the contract he was given.
In response to Jimenez's comments, Tulowitzki and Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez were among those who had choice words for the pitcher in a variety of published reports this spring. That provided the backdrop for Sunday, when Tulowitzki was in the lineup and Gonzalez sat out due to stomach issues.
Tulowitzki was Colorado's third hitter in the first inning, and Jimenez sent his first pitch to the shortstop high and inside, where it struck his left arm. Tulowitzki began yelling at Jimenez, who dropped his glove, ran off the mound and seemingly dared the shortstop to charge. The benches emptied, but no punches were thrown and the situation was calmed after several minutes.
No players were ejected from the game, either.
Tulowitzki left the game to have his elbow examined at a local hospital and X-rays came back negative for any structural damage.
Jimenez said he had no plans of reaching out to Tulowitzki to apologize, even though the pitcher insisted he did not hit the shortstop on purpose.
"No, why?" Jimenez said. "He was calling me [names]. I said already that I didn't mean to hit him. It was a pitch that got away. I had five walks in the game. I was everywhere."
During his postgame tirade over the incident, Tracy said he "lost respect for him."
Jimenez admitted he was taken aback by Tracy's strong words.
"I can't control what people say," Jimenez said. "Whatever they think, just leave it like that. ... I mean, I probably was a little surprised to hear that, but that's OK."
Acta said he felt the suspension was partially the result of the media coverage of the event.
"I just think that everybody is relying too much on the comments made in the newspaper," Acta said. "That's what everybody is going on. The guy walked five guys. One of them [Marco Scutaro] didn't even have to swing the bat and walked three times. So, where do you draw the line?
"It's disappointing that they let themselves be swayed by you guys [in the media]. That's not the only decision where [that's happened]. I understand you guys have a lot of power, but boy, sometimes you've got to make decisions without being swayed by what the press is campaigning for."
Commissioner Bud Selig was in attendance for Sunday's game between the Indians and Rockies, but Acta does not feel that played a role in the ruling.
"Who cares?" Acta said. "Whether he's there or not, everybody gets the same TV feeds and reports and all that kind of stuff. People are not going to play the game different just because Bud is sitting in the stands. They're not going to change the way they play the game."
The incident at Salt River Fields served as a sour ending to a disappointing spring showing for Jimenez, who went 1-4 with a 7.43 ERA in seven Cactus League outings. In his final start, the right-hander gave up six runs on four hits, including two home runs, and ended with five walks and two strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings.
Needless to say, Jimenez is thrilled to put this spring in the rear-view mirror.
"I'm glad this is over," Jimenez said. "Spring Training is over. Now we're going to the fun part -- the season. That's where everything counts. I'm really excited for the season."