By: T.J. Zuppe
One of the biggest elements that will define the type of job new Cleveland Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway does under manager Terry Francona will be the strides pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez does - or does not - make this season.
One of the most frustrating pitchers in baseball, Jimenez can go from electric to maddening in the same inning and has battled inconsistencies over the last few seasons. It will be up to Callaway to figure out how to right those wrongs.
So what will be the key for the big righty to get back on track?
“I think with Ubaldo, be the athlete that he is,” Callaway said when he joined the Hooligans on ESPN 850 WKNR. “He moves around really well for a big guy. We’ve got to get his athleticism back.
“He’s always worked hard and that guy competes when he’s out on the mound better than anybody… He’s more than willing to work and learn and he’s done a great job thus far this spring.”
Last season, Jimenez seemed to battle himself more than opposing hitters. Callaway believes that played a big role in his struggles.
“The game will speed up on you, especially if you’re not confident in your mechanics and confident in what you’re doing,” Callaway said. “He’s kind of regained some of that confidence that he’s had in the past. That makes a huge difference when you’re out there trying to compete. You’re able to slow the game down and when things go bad you can reach back in and think a little more and make pitches.”
What went into the decision to make Justin Masterson the opening day starter?
“Masterson is kind of the leader in the clubhouse and he’s done it the last couple of years. He’s going to be comfortable in that spot. We’re looking for a big year out of him. He looks great coming into camp. His first game went really well. He’s pounding the zone. He’s the guy.”
How do you handle getting to know an unorthodox pitcher like Trevor Bauer?
“The approach is to get to know the kid as a person and to get to know him as a player. He is so super prepared everyday for whatever work he is getting done that day. It’s kind of refreshing to see a young kid take this job that serious. We’re just trying to get to know each other right now and see what makes each other tick.
“My philosophy is if you think its good for you, then it is. If you’re preparing the way you think you should prepare and you’re doing it, then it’s going to work out for you.”
How did Scott Kazmir and Daisuke Matsuzaka come into camp and what will be the deciding factor on if they make the club?
“We saw them come in prepared. They were ready to come out and compete for day one and they’ve done a solid job.
“We’re looking for guys that pound the zone, challenge the hitters. Obviously you have to have good stuff to pitch in the big leagues, so we’ll be looking at that too.”
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