Posted on: March 8, 2012 4:35 pm

For Jimenez, Indians are 'like being in heaven'

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The numbers tell one story.

The smile tells another.

It's too early in spring to know whether the numbers should be worrisome, whether it matters that Ubaldo Jimenez isn't throwing as hard as he once did, or whether it matters that he is giving up more hits and more runs.

It's not too early to realize that there was more going on with Jimenez and the Rockies than most of us realized last year.

Thursday, after Jimenez gave up two runs in an ugly first inning against the Angels, he spoke glowingly about his current employers (the Indians) and not as glowingly about the team that traded him to Cleveland last July.

"I feel happy here," Jimenez said. "This is like being in heaven for me."

As opposed to Colorado.

Jimenez wouldn't detail all of his issues with the Rockies, but he said they went back to his time in the minor leagues.

"It was kind of hard being with the Rockies," he said. "I went through a lot. People outside the organization don't know."

Jimenez told Foxsports.com earlier this spring that he wasn't happy that when the Rockies gave big new contracts to Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, they didn't do the same with him. Jimenez signed an extension in January 2009, so he's making just $4.2 million this year and has a $5.75 million club option for 2013.

But Jimenez suggested his complaints went far beyond the contract, and the way he talks about the Indians hint at what those complaints were.

"You only hear good things about this organization," Jimenez said. "They treat everyone the same. They don't care how much money you signed for."

Jimenez's first two starts this spring haven't gone well. He gave up five runs in one inning Sunday against the Reds, although four of those runs were unearned. Thursday, he gave up two runs in a 31-pitch, two-walk first inning, then rebounded with a clean second inning.

Jimenez blamed his issues Thursday on a lack of command of his fastball, but his velocity was just 90-94 mph, a little low even in spring training for a guy who at his best is in the high 90s.

For Jimenez, getting through the second start of the spring healthy was an improvement over last year. He hurt his finger in his second start last spring, and the injury seemed to playh a part in his poor start to the season.

After going 6-9 with a 4.46 ERA in 21 starts for the Rockies, Jimenez was traded to the Indians in a deal that cost them two top pitching prospects, Drew Pomeranz and Alex White. Jimenez went 4-4 with a 5.10 ERA in 11 post-trade starts for the Indians.

White made news this spring by getting caught for drunk driving. Pomeranz has begun this spring with five scoreless innings for Colorado.

"[The trade] worked both ways," Jimenez said. "They're happy. I'm happy."

He's happy, and it doesn't even matter to him that the opening day assignment that belonged to him the last two years in Colorado will go to Justin Masterson this year with the Indians.

"He deserved it," Jimenez said. "He earned the spot."

Posted on: March 1, 2012 4:35 pm

Sizemore surgery is more bad news for Indians

The Indians know that the Tigers are the heavy favorites in the American League Central. The whole division knows that.

They also know that favorites don't always win, that things go wrong, key guys get hurt.

The problem for the Indians now is that the first key guys who got hurt were theirs.

What was first diagnosed as a lower back strain for Grady Sizemore is now something worse, with the news that Sizemore had lower back surgery Thursday morning and is facing 8-12 weeks of recovery. Already ruled out for opening day, now Sizemore could miss the first month of the season, or more.

Indians closer Chris Perez is also out, with an oblique strain.

But the Sizemore news is worse, even if it does feel predictable.

This will be the fourth straight year that Sizemore has missed considerable time (after four years in which he missed just seven games total). He has played just 104 games the last two seasons combined.

It's easy to forget that he's still just 29 years old, easy to forget that he was a three-time All-Star, easy to forget that his general manager once called him "one of the greatest players of our generation."

"I definitely can get back to playing the way I always played," Sizemore told me last spring.

Is that still true, now that he has added back surgery to knee surgery and to a sports hernia and an elbow injury?

The Indians were willing to take a chance on him this year, bringing him back on a one-year deal that guarantees him $5 million and includes another $4 million in bonuses based on plate appearances.

He won't make all of that bonus money now, but the bigger problem for the Indians is that they won't have him in their lineup.

To win, the Indians need a lot of things to go right, and they need the Tigers to have things go wrong.

They don't need this.

Category: MLB
Posted on: January 26, 2012 2:35 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 2:50 pm

Indians put Carmona on restricted list

The Indians announced Thursday that they have put "Fausto Carmona" on the restricted list.

And yes, that's what they called him.

Carmona, as we found out last week, is actually Roberto Hernandez Heredia. He was arrested by Dominican Republic police and charged with using a fake identity.

Because of that, the Indians don't yet know when Carmona (or Hernandez) is going to be able to come to the United States. By putting him on the restricted list, they won't have him count against their roster limit and won't have to pay him.

It's the same move that the Marlins made with Leo Nunez/Juan Carlos Oviedo, who was charged last September with using a fake identity. Oviedo is still on the restricted list, with no certainty yet on when he'll be able to leave the Dominican Republic.

Carmona is signed for $7 million for 2012. He can be taken off the restricted list at any time, and the Indians plan to do that one he is able to get into the country.

Posted on: January 19, 2012 3:42 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2012 4:15 pm

Indians pitcher Fausto Carmona arrested

Indians pitcher Fausto Carmona was arrested Thursday in the Dominican Republic, charged with using a fake identity.

According to Dominican police (via spokesman Maximo Baez Aybar on Twitter), Carmona's real name is Roberto Hernandez Heredia, and the pitcher is actually 31 years old, not 28.

The police said Carmona (or Hernandez) was arrested when he went to the American consulate to renew his visa. The police said they were working in cooperation with the consulate.

It's not yet clear what charges Carmona (or Hernandez) will face, or what effect this will have on his contract with the Indians. The Indians picked up the pitcher's $7 million option for 2012 in October.

The Indians signed Carmona (or Hernandez) in 2000, when his documents showed that he was 17 years old. Actually, according to the charge, he was 20 years old then, and was 25 when he debuted in the big leagues.

Pitching as Carmona, the right-hander was a 19-game winner in 2007, when the Indians went to the playofs. He's been inconsistent since then, and was 7-15 with a 5.25 ERA in 2011.

The Carmona/Hernandez arrest comes on the heels of the arrest last summer of Juan Carlos Oviedo, who was pitching for the Marlins under the name Leo Nunez. Oviedo returned to the Dominican to face charges, and while he has signed a $6 million contract for 2012, he is still working through legal issues that would allow him to return to the United States.

The Marlins put Oviedo on the restricted list, and he won't be paid unless he is able to return.

Posted on: September 1, 2011 11:32 am

Even in September, Indians need the DL

You never see anyone go on the disabled list on Sept. 1.

There's no need. Major-league rosters expand from 25 to 40. If someone gets hurt, you just call a guy up to replace him.

It's Sept. 1. The Indians just put outfielder Shin-Soo Choo on the DL.

It's actually a procedural move, done so the Indians can bring pitcher Nick Hagadone back to the major leagues without having him spend 10 days in the minor leagues first (there's an exception when you replace a guy on the DL). The Indians say there's actually no change in Choo's prognosis (he has a left oblique strain), and that he never was going to be ready to play before this DL stint ends on Sept. 12.

But even if it's basically meaningless, it sure does feel typical for a team that has seemed to need the DL nearly every day this season. Grady Sizemore has been on and off the DL (and he's still out now). Travis Hafner is on the DL. Michael Brantley is out for the season. And Choo missed a big chunk of the season when he was on the DL earlier this season.

The Indians didn't need to use the DL this time, except that they played 16 innings against the A's on Wednesday night, leaving their bullpen short. But they did use it.

You never see anyone go on the DL on Sept. 1. But if someone was going to do it, it was going to be the Indians.
Category: MLB
Posted on: August 25, 2011 11:45 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 11:49 pm

3 to Watch: The glimmer of a chance edition

Last Friday morning, the host of a morning talk show on the Angels' flagship radio station asked me if Mark Trumbo's dramatic home run the night before had given the Angels "a glimmer of a chance" in the American League West.

Good thing I said yes.

It would have been easy to say no. I was tempted to say no.

The Angels had just lost three of four to the Rangers. They still trailed the Rangers by six games in the American League West.

There was no way they were coming back. But maybe because I wanted to be nice, or maybe because I almost believed it, I said yes.

Good thing I did.

The Angels are in Texas this weekend, and if they win all three games they leave town Sunday night in first place. If they win two of three, they leave town one game out.

Even if they lose two of three, they're three games out, with a month to play.

They have at least "a glimmer of a chance."

Good thing, too, because baseball needs a pennant race in the American League West.

The Tigers have gone ahead by 6 1/2 games in the American League Central. The Brewers are so far ahead in the National League Central (10 games, as of Thursday morning) that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch asked if it's time for the Cardinals to start selling off players.

The Yankees and the Red Sox have known for weeks that they'll be in the American League playoffs. Same goes for the Phillies and Braves in the National League.

If the Rangers had pulled away, we could have been stuck with just the NL West, with the surprising Diamondbacks, the champion Giants . . . and the Rockies?

With five straight wins, the Rockies had pulled to within 8 1/2 games of the lead, before the Diamondbacks won Thursday to make it nine games.

"It's a longshot," Troy Tulowitzki told reporters. "But if anyone can do it, it's us."

The Rockies are 63-68, hardly contender-like. But it's only four games worse than they were after 131 games in 2007.

That year, they ended up with 90 wins. This year, 90 wins might win the NL West.

I'm not sure it's even a glimmer of a chance yet. But Tulowitzki is right.

If anyone can do it, it's them.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. You'd be surprised how many players talk about going back to finish their career where they started it. Jim Thome got the chance, when the Twins traded him to the Indians Thursday night. Thome, who last played for Cleveland in 2002, returns for Royals at Indians, Friday night (7:05 ET) at Progressive Field, which was known as Jacobs Field the last time he played for the Indians. Ubaldo Jimenez, last month's big Indians acquisition, will be on the mound.

2. The best thing the Angels have going for them is the top of their rotation, with Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana. And manager Mike Scioscia seems ready to use all three of those aces this weekend, even though it would mean using Santana and Weaver on three days' rest for the first time in either's big-league career. Santana would face Rangers ace C.J. Wilson in Angels at Rangers, Saturday night (8:05 ET) at Rangers Ballpark. Weaver would pitch Sunday night against Colby Lewis. Haren opens the series on regular rest, Friday against Derek Holland.

3. The Rockies' longshot run last year basically ended on a Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles, when they took a 6-1 lead and ended up losing 7-6. And it fell apart completely a few nights later in Arizona. Their longer-shot run heads to Los Angeles and Arizona this week, including Rockies at Dodgers, Sunday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Dodger Stadium.

Posted on: August 25, 2011 1:21 pm

Indians awarded claim on Thome, hopeful of deal

The Indians are hopeful of working out a deal to bring Jim Thome back to Cleveland.

Thome, who began his career with the Indians but left as a free agent after the 2002 season, was placed on trade waivers by the Twins this week. The Indians were awarded the claim on Wednesday, sources said, and the two teams have until 1 p.m. ET on Friday to work out a deal.

The Indians wouldn't give up much in return for Thome, who is 40 years old and is hitting .248 with 12 home runs in 238 at-bats. Thome recently hit his 600th career home run.

Thome would fit with the Indians, with designated hitter Travis Hafner hurt and possibly out for the season.

Thome would be able to block a trade, but given his strong feelings for Cleveland, it's hard to believe that he would.
Category: MLB
Posted on: August 19, 2011 12:27 am
Edited on: August 19, 2011 9:37 am

3 to Watch: The Verlander and the East edition

What's it worth to win the American League East?

Not as much as it would be if the Twins were winning the American League Central again.

The East winner will almost certainly play the Central winner in the first round of the playoffs. The East runner-up will be the wild card, and will play the Rangers.

And the complicating factor is Justin Verlander.

If the Tigers win the Central, they get the East winner in a best-of-5 series, with the possibility that Verlander could start twice. If he wins twice, the Tigers would need just one win in any of the other three games to advance.

That's exactly what happened in the first round last year. The East winner, the Rays, lost twice to Cliff Lee. The Rays won two of the other three games against the Rangers, but it wasn't enough.

Meanwhile, the wild-card Yankees swept past the Twins.

The Yankees always beat the Twins. They did it again Thursday night, their 20th win in their last 23 games against Minnesota, including sweeps in the last two Division Series.

The Red Sox have been nearly as good, with 15 wins in their last 21 games against the Twins.

The Twins don't have a Verlander, or anyone close. In the playoffs, the Twins have had no chance.

Maybe the Tigers wouldn't have a chance, either, even with Verlander. Maybe the Indians or the White Sox will get past the Tigers and win the Central (the Tigers lead the Indians by 1 1/2 games and the White Sox by four, with the Indians coming to Detroit this weekend).

Maybe it's worth it to win the East, anyway, because if the Yankees and Red Sox both advance to the American League Championship Series, the team that wins the division would have home-field advantage.


But it sure would be easier if the Twins were winning the Central.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Someone asked me the other day who starts Game 2 for the Yankees. My answer? Whoever looks best the last two weeks of the season. Maybe that could even be Phil Hughes, who starts Game 2 of this weekend's series, Yankees at Twins, Friday night (8:10 ET) at Target Field. Hughes' 6.55 ERA is the third-worst in the American League (minimum 40 innings) behind the Royals duo of Sean O'Sullivan and Kyle Davies. But Hughes has gone six innings in three straight starts (and four of the last five), allowing two runs or less each time.

2. The first round of the 2008 draft produced Buster Posey, who helped the Giants win the World Series. It produced Lonnie Chisenhall, Gordon Beckham, Ryan Perry and Daniel Schlereth, who are all part of this year's American League Central race. It produced Brett Lawrie, who the first-place Brewers traded to the Blue Jays to get Shaun Marcum. And it produced Wade Miley, the 24-year-old left-hander the first-place Diamondbacks called up when Jason Marquis broke his leg last Sunday. Miley, who grew up in Louisiana as a Braves fan, makes his big-league debut in Diamondbacks at Braves, Saturday afternoon (7:10 ET) at Turner Field. Miley will face Brandon Beachy, who was also eligible for that 2008 draft. He didn't go in the first round -- or any round -- and the Braves signed him as an undrafted free agent.

3. Tiger manager Jim Leyland reworked his rotation to make sure Verlander pitched against the Indians last week, and Verlander's win kept the Indians from a three-game sweep. Leyland chose not to rework his rotation again this week, and that means Rick Porcello will face Ubaldo Jimenez in Indians at Tigers, Sunday afternoon (1:05 ET) at Comerica Park. The Tigers are 14-9 with Porcello starting, but in 12 starts since June 12, Porcello has a 6.35 ERA. Verlander, who last pitched Tuesday (beating the Twins) is scheduled to start Monday night at Tampa Bay.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com