Rockies put ace Jimenez on disabled list
Ubaldo Jimenez and the Colorado Rockies were worried the cracked cuticle on his pitching thumb would alter his pitching mechanics and lead to a full-blown arm injury.
So, the ace ended up on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday, the first trip to the DL for the 27-year-old Dominican who was the All-Star Game's NL starter last summer.
''It's never good when you go on the DL, especially this being my first time,'' Jimenez said. ''It's disappointing, but it's for my own good. It's good for the team, too. I mean, every time I go out there I want to be 100 percent so I can help my team out. There's no sense in going out there and not doing good for the team.''
Jimenez, who threw soft toss Wednesday for a third time since Sunday, was treating the cut with anti-bacterial ointment and pickle brine. It's getting better, just not quickly enough.
''I want it behind us, and the only way we're going to get it completely behind us is if we stop right now and completely allow the finger the opportunity to become a complete non-issue,'' manager Jim Tracy said.
The Rockies had hoped to have Jimenez throw a bullpen session Wednesday and start Friday night at Pittsburgh on seven days' rest, but the right-hander realized over the previous 48 hours that he wasn't going to be able to grip the ball well enough to have his usual repertoire of a half dozen pitches.
''The thing is it is looking better every day looking from the outside. But from the inside, it still hurts,'' Jimenez said. ''Every time I squeeze the ball I feel something. It is getting better, but they're trying to play it safe with me.
''I might be able to fight it, but it's not smart. It would get worse and worse every day.''
Now, the Rockies and Jimenez must find a fragile balance between getting in enough work to keep his arm strong and yet not overdoing it and risk exacerbating the injury, which is on the inside portion of the thumb, right where he tucks it underneath the baseball's red stitches to throw his heaters, curves and sliders.
He'll throw a bullpen session later this week.
The move is retroactive to last Friday, when Jimenez had an awful opener against Arizona because he couldn't grip the ball properly and lacked both spin on his breaking pitches and oomph on his usually electric fastball. He gave up six runs on seven hits in six innings.
''I couldn't squeeze the ball. I was trying to find a way to grab the ball so my finger wouldn't hurt,'' Jimenez said.
That's the crux of the issue.
''This is a very delicate thing,'' Tracy said, ''and when you go altering a grip, where is the next place things are going to go?''
''Correct,'' Tracy said. ''And I'm not interested in being in the middle of that.''
Jimenez certainly isn't either.
''Right now my arm is perfect, and that's why we stopped right now,'' he said. ''We don't want anything to happen to the arm.''
The Rockies recalled right-handed pitcher Greg Reynolds from Triple-A Colorado Springs to take Jimenez's roster spot, and he'll pitch Saturday at Pittsburgh, with Jorge De La Rosa moving up to Friday.
Reynolds was the second overall draft pick in 2006, but he's been plagued by injuries throughout this career. He's 2-8 with a 8.13 ERA in 14 major league games, including 13 starts for Colorado.
The 25-year-old Reynolds had a terrific spring when Esmil Rogers beat him out for the fifth spot in the starting rotation. So, he was sent to Colorado Springs, where he was slated to start the opener Thursday.