GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - As poorly as Ubaldo Jimenez has pitched this spring, even a performance in which he gave up a bunch of hits looked pretty good.
Jimenez threw plenty of strikes in five innings for the Cleveland Indians in a 7-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday.
Jimenez allowed two earned runs and seven hits, walking none and striking out three. He said he stayed consistent with his mechanics in his second-to-last start of the spring, lowering his ERA from 7.24 to 6.27.
``I was able to throw a lot of strikes to get ahead and stay ahead,' Jimenez said. ``I think it was the first game that I've been able to do that in spring training.'
Jimenez is trying to bounce back after finishing 4-4 with a 5.10 ERA for the Indians last season following a late trade with the Colorado Rockies. He is expected to be Cleveland's No. 2 starter.
Indians manager Manny Acta said Jimenez's secondary pitches were possibly the best he's thrown this spring.
``It's a big relief for me,' Acta said. ``I wanted to see some improvement. He looks very relaxed, at times too relaxed. He says he doesn't always pitch well in spring training. He has assured us the velocity will be there. We have to trust him.'
Brent Morel and Alejandro De Aza hit their first home runs of the spring for the White Sox, both two-run shots. Paul Konerko added two doubles.
Zach Stewart, a candidate for the Chicago bullpen, allowed a run and three hits in 5 1-3 innings.
``Whatever role or job they decide for me and want me to pursue, that's fine,' Stewart said. ``My main goal is just getting there (in the majors).'
Before the game, the White Sox sent six players to their minor league camp, boosting the chances of infielders Eduardo Escobar or Ray Olmedo winning the final bench spot.
Escobar, a switch-hitter, started at shortstop and went 0 for 4. He is batting .421 this spring. Olmedo started at second base, went 2 for 4 and is hitting .450.
Escobar is on the 40-man roster while Olmedo is a non-roster invite.
``I've been working very hard and will continue to do that. I think that being here as long as I have, making the cut, shows the hard work that I've been doing.'
Escobar made his major league debut Sept. 3 and hit .286 in nine games.
``You could say that I'm a natural shortstop, but by the same token, the more reps and practices I get at the different positions, the more comfortable I feel,' he said. ``Also, it gives me the opportunity to highlight what I can do.'
Olmedo has hit .228 in 198 major league games.
NOTES: White Sox closer candidate Jesse Crain (oblique) allowed an unearned run two innings in a minor league game, his first action since March 12. Crain said he's on target to be ready for the regular season. ``I believe I'll have at least three more actual games,' he said. ``By then, I'll get locked in.' ... White Sox starter Jake Peavy allowed five runs and 12 hits in seven innings in the minor league game. He struck out seven and walked one. ... The Indians' Michael Brantley went 1 for 2 in his first game after missing a week with a tight right hamstring.
The Associated Press News Service
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