PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) - Cleveland Indians pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez was pleased with his performance on Thursday.
Facing a familiar opponent in the San Diego Padres, Jimenez, who had a 9.31 ERA this spring in four starts, showed his dominant form from his days with the Colorado Rockies.
Jimenez limited the Padres to a run, four hits and a walk in four innings and struck out four as the Indians won 9-4.
``I felt much better, especially from my last start,' Jimenez said. ``I was much more aggressive. But I still have a lot to improve. I had too many 2-1 and 3-1 counts. Hopefully, I am not going to keep falling behind like that. I have two games to get better and I will work on my fastball command, mostly.'
Jimenez, who went a combined 10-13 with a 4.68 ERA in 32 starts for the Rockies and Indians last season, was clearly better Thursday than he had been in his previous start.
Facing the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday, Jimenez gave up six earned runs, five hits and walked four in 3 2-3 innings while featuring a fastball that topped out in the high 80-mph range.
On Sunday, Indians manager Manny Acta spoke to Jimenez because he was concerned about his fastball velocity and overall health. But Jimenez assured his manager he would be ready for the regular season.
Against the Padres, Jimenez kept his promise as he reached 95 mph.
``We're happy that Ubaldo was able to show better stuff today,' Acta said. ``He still pitched behind in the count a lot, but we're satisfied with the velocity. He continues to assure us he's fine, that he feels good and the velocity is not going to be an issue.'
Jimenez threw strikes on 43 of 76 pitches. He allowed several hard-hit balls and pitched deep into many counts, but was pleased with how he felt.
``I feel way better than last spring,' Jimenez said. ``I got hurt in the second start. I am past that now. I feel very good, very happy. I am not worried at all and at peace with myself, my pitching and my team.'
Padres starter Cory Luebke was also excited about his performance.
The left-hander, who went 6-10 with a 3.29 ERA in 46 games (17 starts) in 2011, wants to develop better command of his changeup and curveball this spring to mix in with his fastball and slider.
Luebke used both the curve and changeup in a five-inning performance and said he was pleased. Luebke allowed a run, four hits and struck out six. He also got several outs with the changeup when he got behind hitters.
``Today was the most comfortable I've been with the changeup to date,' Luebke said.
Designated hitter Travis Hafner hit a solo home run and had an RBI groundout for Cleveland.
Outfielder Shelley Duncan, who hit .260 with 11 homers and 47 RBIs for the Indians in 2011, had a two-run homer.
Shin-Soo Choo had two doubles for the Indians.
Jesus Guzman, Chase Headley and Everth Cabrera all hit solo homers for the Padres. Cabrera also tripled in a run in four at_bats.
The Associated Press News Service
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