His first game back, coincidentally, comes on the heels of another hotly contested hit batsman, as Royals lefty Jonathan Sanchez hit Shin-Soo Choo with a pitch in the third inning of Cleveland's 11-9 win on Saturday night. Both benches cleared for the first time, and again later, when three Indians -- pitcher Jeanmar Gomez, third baseman Jack Hannahan and manager Manny Acta -- were ejected after Gomez hit Mike Moustakas.
But Jimenez won't be focused on plunking anyone Sunday, as the Indians go for a three-game sweep at Kauffman Stadium. He'll be trying to replicate the success he enjoyed while carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Blue Jays on April 7. Jimenez allowed two runs on one hit and three walks with three strikeouts, and he'll hope for a better outcome than a no-decision this time around.
"Ubaldo was terrific," Acta said following Jimenez's season debut. "He was very confident."
Jimenez certainly looked better than he did during a rough spring, when he recorded a 7.43 ERA, then wound up with the suspension for hitting his former Rockies teammate.
"[Ubaldo] definitely pitched good enough to win," second baseman Jason Kipnis said after the right-hander's first outing this season. "He looked a little bit more determined -- a little bit more ready -- than we might've seen in spring. That was good to see. He kind of came out on fire and just kind of stayed that way."
Royals starter Luis Mendoza, meanwhile, followed up an outstanding spring -- in which he led the Majors with a 0.47 ERA -- with a solid debut. The right-hander gave up one run in 5 2/3 innings against the A's, giving up five hits and walking four batters. He took a tough loss despite only allowing one run, though he was fortunate to only give up one run in a rough second inning.
After allowing a one-out single, Mendoza walked a batter, got a quick forceout, gave up an RBI single, tossed a wild pitch then walked another batter. He managed to get out of the jam, thanks to a strong defensive play by Chris Getz at second base.
While he'll hope to avoid potential big innings like that one could have turned into when he takes the mound against the Tribe, Mendoza left his first start looking on the bright side.
"Overall, I think I pitched good," Mendoza said.
Indians: Kotchman excited about Damon speculation
Casey Kotchman was teammates with Johnny Damon with Tampa Bay last year when the Rays staged their remarkable run into the playoffs, so he's seen the kind of effect the veteran outfielder can have on a team both on the field and in the clubhouse.
Given that experience, it's no wonder Kotchman had nothing but positive things to say about the possibility of Damon signing with the Tribe.
"Johnny has a lot to offer any team," Kotchman said. "He's a winner, as history shows. He brings energy and is always upbeat. He never has a bad day. To have him on the [Tampa Bay] team last year was critical. Over the course of six months, you're going to have ups and downs. It's nice to have somebody there who has been there and done that. Johnny always brings a positive attitude.
"He brought us a lot of life, a lot of energy and kept everything loose," he added. "There's no panic with Johnny Damon."
With Kotchman and Kipnis going deep Saturday night, the Indians have homered in seven straight games to begin the season, the longest such streak for the Tribe since April 2-13, 2006, when they hit a homer in nine straight games to open the year. The club record of 14, dating to at least 1918, was set in 2002.
Royals: Teaford primed to fill rotation spot
Right-hander Luke Hochevar was officially diagnosed with a left medial ankle contusion after being hit by a line drive Friday against Cleveland, and manager Ned Yost insisted that Hochevar is going to be fine, admitting he was surprised the starter didn't suffer a broken leg or something worse. If Hochevar isn't able to make his next start, reliever Everett Teaford figures to step into the rotation.
Teaford worked four scoreless innings in relief of Hochevar on Friday.
"If he does have to make the next start for Hoch, he can. We all said in Spring Training how great he pitched," Royals outfielder Jeff Francoeur said. "We felt very confident with him on the mound, and I think it showed [Friday]."
After raising his average 160 points with consecutive strong games at the plate, Alex Gordon went 0-for-5 on Saturday night, dropping his batting average back down to .133.
Gordon went hitless through the season's first five games then picked up two hits on back-to-back nights, including a 2-for-3 performance with a walk and an RBI on Friday in the Royals' home opener.
The Indians will make up their April 10 rainout against the White Sox on May 7 at 1:05 p.m. ET, creating a day/night split doubleheader with their scheduled 7:05 contest.
As part of Jackie Robinson Day, the first 10,000 fans at Kauffman Stadium on Sunday will receive a Jackie Robinson T-shirt. There will also be an on-field ceremony to honor Robinson's accomplishments prior to the game.