ARLINGTON -- Rumors of the demise of Ubaldo Jimenez's fastball have been greatly exaggerated. At least that appeared to be the case in Friday night's 8-7, 11-inning loss, when the newly-acquired Indians starter featured plenty of heat on a scorching night in Texas.
When Cleveland obtained Jimenez in a five-player swap with Colorado before Sunday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, the right-hander joined the Tribe amid plenty of reports about his diminished velocity. In his sporadic five-inning debut for the Indians, Jimenez's one constant was impressive pitch speed.
"It's coming back," Jimenez said. "You'll know when it's back."
Texas pitchers have taken to calling the radar gun inside Rangers Ballpark "The Humbler" due to its low readings. On Friday night, however, Jimenez's pitches routinely registered between 94-98 mph. Entering the outing, the righty was averaging roughly 93 mph on his fastball -- down from 96 mph last season.
According to PitchFX data, Jimenez averaged 94.9 mph and topped out at 97.7 mph with his four-seam fastball in his debut for the Tribe. When firing his two-seamer, Jimenez averaged 93.8 mph and topped out at 95.4. He said on Saturday that his fastball felt better than it has all season.
That said, Jimenez struggled mightily with his fastball command.
In five innings, Jimenez logged 108 pitches (63 strikes) and allowed five runs on seven hits. He struck out seven and walked three.
"The ball was moving too much," Jimenez said. "I think I was too excited."
Indians manager Manny Acta has repeatedly noted that Jimenez suffered from a variety of health woes early this season. He dealt with a groin issue as well as a right thumb injury, which affected his velocity early in the year, according to Jimenez.
"I know what it was," Jimenez said. "The [Rockies] knew what it was. It was because of my groin and my finger."
Acta echoed that explanation.
"It's been well-documented that, when he first started the year, he wasn't healthy," Acta said. "We all know, when this guy is healthy, what he can do. The world saw it last year. He's young. He's 27 years old. We're going to have him under control for 2 1/2 years. Those are the things that made us go for [the trade].
"People talk about velocity and all that, but when you drop from 97 to 95 mph, you're not losing much. Now, when you drop from 97 to 88 mph, now that's something to be concerned about."
Pestano delivers after Acta's pointed message
ARLINGTON -- Rookie reliever Vinnie Pestano had only talked with Indians manager Manny Acta on the mound under two scenarios. Acta was either pulling Pestano from a game or bringing the right-hander in to pitch.
In the eighth inning of Friday's 8-7, 11-inning loss to the Rangers, Acta found another reason to chat with Pestano. The conversation was purely one-sided, though, and Acta was hardly calm as he delivered a heated message to the reliever on the mound.
"He might've been chewing me out," Pestano said, "but that wasn't the way I took it. I can't remember the exact conversation, but I got the gist of what he was trying to do. He challenged me to go out there and attack guys."
With one out and Cleveland clinging to a 7-5 lead at the time, Pestano issued a walk to Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland. Entering the outing, the reliever had a 7.36 ERA in his previous 13 appearances. Acta took one look at Pestano walking around the mound and decided a quick meeting was needed.
"I just wanted him to change his body language a little bit," Acta explained. "I felt that he was walking around and acting a little more like the victim instead of being aggressive. That's what that was all about. I was trying to get him going.
"I just felt it was the right moment. I could see in between pitches how he was reacting and stuff. I just didn't like it. I thought that he needed to get his swagger back."
After listening to Acta's message, the pitcher finished off the eighth inning with consecutive strikeouts to Yorvit Torrealba and Endy Chavez. Pestano said Acta's stern strategy was precisely what he needed in that situation.
"I'm not the type of player that needs to be coddled," Pestano said. "I need people to get in my face. That's what the situation called for. If somebody is going to go out there, especially the manager over the pitching coach, I respond better to people challenging me.
"When I came to the dugout, I told him that's how he needs to talk to me. That's the first time he's come out to the mound, I believe, without taking me out of a game or bringing me in. He knows I'm kind of a high-strung, high-energy guy.
"Going out there and trying to rub my back isn't exactly going to get the job done."
Choo, feeling better, having thumb re-evaluated
ARLINGTON -- Shin-Soo Choo's insistence that he is a quick healer continues to hold up with every test thrown at the Indians right fielder.
On Saturday, one day after taking part in batting practice with the Tribe in Arlington, Choo was back in Cleveland having his healing left thumb re-evaluated by hand specialist Dr. Tom Graham. Indians manager Manny Acta was encouraged by Choo's BP session on Friday afternoon.
"He was OK," Acta said. "He swung the bat better than the day before."
Choo had his left thumb broken by a pitch from San Francisco's Jonathan Sanchez on June 24, was placed on the 15-day disabled list and underwent surgery -- performed by Graham -- a few days later. At the time of his injury, Choo was hitting .244 with five home runs and 28 RBIs over 72 games.
If given clearance by Graham, Choo is scheduled to take batting practice again on Sunday with Class A Lake County. After that, the Indians will determine whether Choo will be able to immediately begin a Minor League rehab assignment.
"He's going to take batting practice in Lake County," Acta said. "After that, we'll make a decision about whether he can start a rehab assignment or if we need to wait longer."
Quote to note
"We've done that to a lot of teams this year. These kids have proven to be very resilient when it comes to that. We understand that in a 162-game season you'll have some of those. You have to have a short memory in baseball. This is not like football where you're going to have to spend one week regurgitating that inning."
Indians manager Manny Acta, on Friday's 8-7, 11-inning loss to Texas
Minor League left-hander Drew Pomeranz was transferred from Double-A Akron to the Arizona League Indians on Saturday. Pomeranz, who is the player to be named later in the trade that brought pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez to Cleveland, is not eligible to be dealt until Aug. 15. Until then, the lefty will throw bullpen sessions at the Indians' training complex in Goodyear, Ariz.
Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner received a full day off on Friday, robbing Cleveland of a chance to use him as a pinch-hitter with two on, one out and Texas righty Neftali Feliz on the mound in a tie game in the 10th inning. Asked on Saturday if he could've hit in that situation, Hafner smiled and replied, "So, how are you enjoying Texas so far?" If there is an injury nagging Hafner, it's clearly not serious. The DH was back in the cleanup spot for Saturday's game against the Rangers.
Right-hander Josh Tomlin, who is slated to start for the Tribe on Sunday, is a native of Whitehouse, Texas, which is roughly 125 miles southeast of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Tomlin has left 50 tickets for family and friends, and the starter said he is expecting even more to make the trek to Arlington to watch him pitch.
Center fielder Michael Brantley was back in the lineup after resting a sore right wrist for the past three games. "He's better," manager Manny Acta said. "He's feeling better, so he's playable." Brantley entered Friday's 8-7 loss as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning and later singled in the 11th inning.