Update: Rockies manager Jim Tracy got his wish, assuming the five-game suspension Cleveland Indians pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez received for drilling Troy Tulowitzki on Sunday is enough for him -- and it might not be considering the vitriol he expressed towards his former ace after the game. The onetime Rockies pitcher was also fined in addition to the suspension and will likely miss the first five games of the season.
Jimenez could appeal the suspension and Indians manager Manny Acta said he expects him to do so. Jimenez said he did not intentionally throw at Tulowitzki, but everyone else, including Major League Baseball, feels different. Presumably, MLB senior vice president Joe Garagiola Jr., who handed down the suspension, read intent from how quickly Jimenez charged off the mound toward Tulo, as well as taking into account the recent war of words in the media between the two.
Five games might seem excessive at first glance, but it means five team games, not five starts for Jimenez. He will miss one start, probably the second game of the season, unless he appeals the suspension.
One start is an entirely reasonable suspension for a plunking that was clearly intentional, despite what Jimenez and his manager claim. Jimenez's actions after the pitch were that of a man looking for payback and he has since said he will not apologize to Tulowitzki.
Jimenez threw a fastball where he could have broken a star player's bone five days before the start of the season and then he showed no remorse. On the other hand, players getting hit is part of baseball. So Jimenez takes a relatively light punishment and Rockies fans move on, thankful their star is not seriously hurt and that the pitcher who posted a 7.43 ERA this spring is no longer on their team.
Look below to read our previous coverage.
Original item, 3:59 p.m. April 2: When Cleveland Indians pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez faced his former team yesterday it provided for an interesting match-up in a long line of otherwise relatively meaningless Spring Training games. But no one imagined the contest would turn quite this heated. Jimenez drilled Troy Tulowitzki on the first pitch of his at-bat in the first inning and the benches cleared as the two exchanged words near home plate.
Tulowitzki took the pitch on the elbow and then left the game because it was stiff and sore. X-rays on the elbow were negative and Tulo insists he won't miss opening day on Friday against the Houston Astros.
In the video below, Tulowitzki can be seen yelling at Jimenez after being hit. Almost immediately after Jimenez plunked Tulo, he tossed his glove to the side and ran toward the plate, motioning Tulo to come towards him. That's when the benches cleared.
What followed was typical of almost every baseball fight ever -- heavy on the "hold me back" posturing and light on actual punches. No one took a swing and no one was ejected. Jimenez denies that he hit Tulo on purpose. Rockies manager Jim Tracy is not buying it, though.
"It's the most gutless act I have seen in 35 years of professional baseball," he told the Denver Post's Troy Renck. "I have lost all respect for him. To do something like that and walk down off the mound, and if there's any suggestion whatsoever that the ball got away, I don't want to hear any of that (expletive). He intentionally threw at him. He should be suspended. I am going to be very disappointed if he doesn't get suspended. He deserves to be."
The umpires didn't eject Jimenez, so they didn't interpret intent. Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig was in attendance and video of the incident is available. Jimenez blamed a lack of control, which Rockies fans are familiar with, for plunking Tulowitzki.
"As you can see, in the first inning I didn't have control of my fastball," Jimenez said in an interview with the Post's Patrick Saunders. "As you can see, I walked the first guy on four pitches. (Tulowitzki) is one of the best hitters in the game. I tried to get inside on him and that's what I tried to do. It was one pitch that got away. That happens in a thousand games."
Jimenez said Tulowitzki was calling him names and that's the reason he charged in the direction of home plate and seemed to challenge him. Tulowitzki admitted to yelling at Jimenez and being upset about getting hit.
Tulowitzki sniped at Jimenez in the media after Ubaldo complained about the way the Rockies treated him. Jimenez wanted a contract extension when Tulo and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez received theirs, but he had several years remaining on his contract at the time and there were whispers about his lack of work ethic.
Back then, Tulowitzki essentially said as much, suggesting that Jimenez move on and help his new team. Jimenez has compared being in Cleveland to heaven, which has to be a shot at Colorado given that Cleveland's main selling point is that it's not Detroit. He also made vague references to difficulties he had while with the Rockies.
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Capping off the day were some rather cryptic quotes from Tracy to Renck indicating there was a lot more conflict with Jimenez than was ever made public:
"Knowing what I know, knowing what took place last year, and where this team was at going into the second month of the season and doing what we did (in April) and he was nowhere to be found. I have lost all respect for him," Tracy said.
"Look at where we were at last spring. At what took place after the 2010 season and what we did in the beginning of the 2011 season without him. Waiting for him. Taking bullets for him. All the different things. And to pull that (expletive). Out of line. Out of character. As I have said, the most unprofessional thing I have ever seen since I started in professional baseball."
Here's the video of the drilling:
More from our Baseball archive: "Ubaldo Jimenez trade: Swapping him for four guys you've never heard of was probably smart."