GLENDALE, Ariz. – While the White Sox avoid using their starting pitchers against American League Central opponents, the Indians figure they’ve seen their rivals so often a few spring training games won’t hurt.
So at the same time Jake Peavy was throwing 81 pitches on a back field against minor leaguers, Ubaldo Jimenez worked five solid innings against the Sox in a 5-2 victory Wednesday.
“I felt good,” Jimenez said. “I was able to go out there and throw all my breaking balls and fastball for a strike. In the first two or three innings, I was able to command the fastball in and away. I felt good.”
After stringing together four hits in the second, including an RBI ground-rule double to center by Gordon Beckham and a run-scoring single by Dewayne Wise, the Sox were held to two hits in the final six innings against Jimenez and four Indians relievers.
Jimenez knew the White Sox were sitting on his fastball during the second, so he went to some breaking pitches to stop the damage. He allowed seven hits before going to the bullpen for 10 more pitches. Jimenez did not walk a batter and struck out three. He is penciled in to be the Indians’ No. 2 starter after Justin Masterson.
“He was pretty good,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He didn’t really throw his off-speed pitches for strikes, but he only gave up the two (runs), and they got four hits in a row. It wasn’t like he was walking people. I thought it was, for the most part, really encouraging. I think it proves to him, hopefully, that he can live with that fastball.”
Much has been made of Jimenez’s velocity drop on his fastball, but Francona said it’s not an issue with him.
“I don’t think that’s something we ever care to talk about,” Francona said. “He fell into that rut last year where he was reaching back trying to get more. With his movement, if he just stays on target, he’s fine.”
Infielder Cord Phelps hit a two-run homer against Sox prospect Deunte Heath in the seventh inning to extend a 3-2 lead.
Lonnie Chisenhall and Asdrubal Cabrera each doubled for the Indians, giving Cleveland a major league-leading 46 doubles this spring.
Alexei Ramirez (.409) singled twice and stole a base, and Wise had two singles for the Sox.
Notes: Indians right-handed reliever Frank Hermann will miss the season after having Tommy John surgery on Wednesday in New York. Hermann, 28, has pitched in 95 games for Cleveland over the past three seasons, including 15 last season when he posted a 2.33 ERA. He was competing for a spot in the bullpen but hadn’t pitched since Feb. 25. Sox third baseman Jeff Keppinger’s sore shoulder, which has lingered since the beginning of camp, kept him out of the lineup again but manager Robin Ventura downplayed it, saying the team is being overly cautious. Keppinger might play second when he returns, perhaps this weekend, to avoid longer throws. . Right-handed reliever Jesse Crain (groin) threw a bullpen session and is getting close to game action, Ventura said. Zach McAllister, the Indians No. 4 starter, pitches against the Royals in Goodyear on Wednesday. Sox lefty John Danks continues his recovery from August shoulder surgery when he starts against the Angels in Tempe.