Ubaldo Jimenez hits Troy Tulowitzki intentionally with a first-pitch fastball. Ubaldo Jimenez seems still harbored grudges to his former teammate at Rockies, Troy Tulowitzki and hitting him intentionally in Sunday’s exhibition game at Salt River Fields. “I did not have good control of my fastball.”
Jimenez sparks incident by plunking Tulowitzki
As the new guy in the Rockies clubhouse, Jeremy Guthrie, who has spent his career in the American League, doesn’t know much about the history of his new teammates.
He got a quick lesson on Sunday afternoon, and it wasn’t pretty.
Indians right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, traded by the Rockies last July, drilled Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki on the left elbow with a first-pitch fastball in Sunday’s exhibition game at Salt River Fields, sparking a benches-clearing confrontation in what Rockies manager Jim Tracy called “the most gutless act I’ve seen in 35 years in pro ball. I have lost all respect for (Jimenez).”
Earlier this spring Jimenez revealed that he asked to be traded a year ago because he felt the Rockies disrespected him by giving contract extensions to Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez but not to him — despite the Rockies having signed him to a deal that, including team options, stretched to the 2014 season.
“But they gave them more money,” Jimenez said.
Tulowitzki and Gonzalez, who missed Sunday’s game with an illness, spoke out about their ex-teammate, with Tulowitzki saying, “While I’ve been here everybody’s been treated fairly. There’s a certain point in the game where you go play and shut your mouth.”
Indians manager Manny Acta said he was unaware of any animosity between Jimenez and his former team. He knows now. There certainly are no warm and fuzzy feelings left between Jimenez and the Rockies.
“There are players (in the Rockies clubhouse) who are upset,” said Guthrie, a former first-round draft choice of Cleveland acquired by the Rockies from Baltimore during the offseason. “They gave Ubaldo too much credit, that he would be more professional.”
Jimenez feigned innocence, acting surprised that anyone would think he would have tried to hit Tulowitzki, although his actions spoke loudly — after hitting Tulowitzki he dropped his glove, walked toward home plate and pounded his chest — and were observed by Commissioner Bud Selig, who watched the game from the private box of Dick and Charlie Monfort, owners of the Rockies.
“I did not have good control of my fastball,” Jimenez said. “I walked the first guy (Marco Scutaro) on four pitches. (Tulowitzki) is one of the best hitters in the game. I have to try and go inside.”
“He called me a name worse than chicken,” Jimenez said. “You call me out, I will be there.”
Tulowitzki dropped his bat and yelled at Jimenez.
“As soon as hit he me I saw he wanted a little more,” Tulowitzki said. “I was definitely not happy about being hit intentionally.”
Tulowitzki, however, showed more poise than his ex-teammate. He never hinted at charging the mound, much to the pleasure of Tracy.
“He came off the mound with intent,” Tracy said of Jimenez. “I was proud of Tulo. To be hit like that, the natural reaction is to charge the mound. He had the presence of mind to know the season starts on Friday.”
And the Rockies not only want Tulowitzki in their lineup, they need him there. He is their Gold Glove shortstop and cleanup hitter.
They have their fingers crossed that Tulowitzki’s elbow is only bruised, and the X-rays, which did not show any broken bones, are accurate. Tulowitzki immediately took himself out of the game because “my elbow was blown up. I couldn’t bend it. If it was the regular season, I would have been out of the game.”
Jimenez acted concerned that Tulowitzki could be sidelined.
“I don’t want to be in the position of taking a guy out of the game,” he said. “Of course I am going to be sorry. He is one of the superstar players in the game.”
The Rockies are confident that given the way he handled the situation, Tulowitzki won’t be suspended. Jimenez, however, is another story. Tracy said he will pursue a suspension of Jimenez, and the fact that Selig saw the event unfold in person is not good news for Jimenez.
And a suspension for a spring incident isn’t unprecedented. Former Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis was suspended for five regular-season games in 2007 for throwing a pitch behind the back of San Diego’s Kevin Kouzmanoff in an exhibition game after Padres reliever Doug Brocail hit Matt Holliday with a pitch for the second time in four days. (Tracy Ringolsby – foxsportsarizona.com)