On Saturday morning, Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez announced that would drop his appeal of a five-game suspension handed down by Major League Baseball for an exhibition game incident during which he intentionally threw at Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
So Jimenez will make his start on Saturday, and then essentially will miss no time at all, as his next start will only be pushed back one day. Jimenez will start on consecutive Saturdays and then fall back to his normal five-day workload.
How is that for harsh punishment?
The incident that caused the suspension in the first place was one of clear intent. Jimenez, who was shipped to the Indians by the Rockies in a trade deadline deal last July, had been popping off all spring long about the “unfair” treatment he had received from the Rockies.
According to Troy Renck of the Denver Post:
Jimenez has expressed his anger toward the Rockies this spring, admitting that he felt underappreciated last season because he was not awarded a contract extension like Tulowitzki (seven years, $134.5 million) and Carlos Gonzalez (seven years, $80 million).
Both Tulowitzki and Gonzalez responded to Jimenez’s claims, with Tulo telling the Denver Post, “If someone doesn’t want to be here we always say, ‘Please, go up to the manager and tell him you want to leave or that you don’t think this is the best place for you.’ That was kind of the case with him.”
When the Indians faced the Rockies on April 1, Jimenez wasted no time in displaying how he felt about Tulowitzki’s comments, drilling him with a fastball on his left elbow in Tulowitzki’s first at-bat in the first inning.
For anyone who saw the play or replayed the video, there should be no question whatsoever that there was clear intent on Jimenez’s part, despite comments made to the contrary. MLB obviously agreed, and handed down their ruling with a five-game suspension.
Again, this is where MLB’s joke of a suspension program comes into play.
Jimenez essentially gets no punishment whatsoever, having his next start pushed back one day instead of missing any time at all. What MLB needs to be doing is suspending starting pitchers for a number of starts, not a number of games.
The right message in this particular case should have been a two-start suspension. Plunking a batter because of a personal vendetta is cowardly. Rockies manager Jim Tracy took it even farther, calling Jimenez “gutless.”
“It’s the most gutless act I have seen in 35 years of professional baseball. 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,” Tracy said at the time.
Well, Mr. Tracy, you got your wish. Jimenez was indeed suspended, but with MLB’s impotent suspension program, Jimenez basically gets off scot-free.
Jimenez and his immature handling of his personal situation was carried out to the mound, and Tulowitzki nearly paid a heavy price for it. Thankfully, Tulo was not seriously injured, however, what would have happened had he sustained a fractured elbow and was forced to miss significant playing time?
It’s high time that Major League Baseball thoroughly re-evaluates their suspension program and implements a much more stringent plan for starting pitchers. In this case, justice has not been served.