Detroit — The dips in velocity are more of a concern to the Detroit Tigers’ coaching staff and front office than they are to Joe Jimenez.
“It’s happened before in my past years,” said Jimenez, whose calling card has been as a power-armed short reliever. “The velocity went up and down. I don’t worry about that. It’s just something that’s going to happen in the season.”
Here is Jimenez’s average fastball velocity, according to Brooks Baseball, over his last five outings:
* Aug. 11, 95.70
* Aug. 12, 95.33
* Aug. 15, 94.99
* Aug. 16, 94.22
* Aug. 18, 96.25
Obviously, there was a sigh of relief when he was back up consistently over 95 mph. But he didn’t throw many pitches in that outing, and he still wasn’t ringing 97-98, which he is capable of.
“We got a day off (before his last outing) and that felt good,” Jimenez said. “I’ve been throwing a lot, too. That might be something. But I don’t worry about that.”
Jimenez said his arm feels fine. There are no physical issues. And, counting his time at Toledo, he’s only thrown 25 innings this season. He threw a career-high 53.2 innings last season.
“I don’t feel tired or like I’m getting fatigued at all,” he said. “I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing. I know it’s there.”
Manager Brad Ausmus said that while it was a concern that Jimenez was struggling to hit 95 on the radar gun, it’s more important for his success that he tightens his slider. Jimenez agreed with that.
“I really try not to worry about the velocity during the game,” he said. “I don’t watch the radar gun, just because if I see it, I’m going to think about it too much. So I just watch the swings of the hitter and he will tell me.
“Even when I don’t have the velocity, I still have to get outs.”
That’s not been happening with any regularity thus far, either. In his 10 innings in the big leagues, he’s allowed 13 earned runs, 15 hits, three home runs and four walks. He has, though, had some strong outings. Four of the seven runs he’s allowed since coming back on Aug. 5 came in one outing.
Remarkably, and to his credit, his confidence and self-belief haven’t been diminished.
“I’m trying to do my best and give the team an opportunity to win,” he said. “I know they trust me. I know the front office, Al Avila, and Brad, they have confidence in me and they are waiting for me to do what I do best, and that is get outs.
“I’m confident in the person that I am and I am just going to keep doing what I’m doing.”
The rough outings aside, he doesn’t believe he will ultimately be defined by his first 10 innings in the Major Leagues.
“It’s a process,” he said. “I know I have to pass through this. I’m just going to keep my head up and keep trying to do my best every day. I will be OK.”