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'It's just stupid that he thinks that': Tigers' Joe Jimenez fires back at Miguel Sano

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Minneapolis – Joe Jimenez wasn’t going to let this go without setting the record straight.

It wasn’t so much that Miguel Sano made a spectacle of his home run celebration in the seventh inning Saturday night. He drove one of Jimenez’s hanging sliders 414 feet into the facing of the second deck in left field.

Joe Jimenez

Jimenez could live with that. He could live with the fact that Sano watched it, pimped it, made all kinds of noise when he crossed home plate and got back into the dugout. What he couldn’t live with, though, was what Sano told his teammates and reporters afterward.

“Last year he struck me out with a slider and said, ‘Get the (bleep) out of here,’” Sano said. He also accused Jimenez of pimping a strikeout of Nelson Cruz at Comerica Park late last August and said he planned to similarly celebrate future home runs off Jimenez.

“That was a lie,” Jimenez said Sunday morning. “I didn’t do it. I’m not doing good (pitching-wise), so I’m not going to be that guy to pimp a strikeout in a big situation or whatever. I had respect for him, but if he’s doing that from now on, then I’m going to do my own thing, too.”

Looking back at replays from August 2019, Jimenez did indeed post big strikeouts of Sano and Cruz. But both times, he looked to the side and exalted. He didn’t look at or direct any words toward the player or the Twins dugout.

“I am going to say this, I have never, ever done anything on the mound to (show up) the hitter,” Jimenez said. “I’ve never said something to a hitter. I’ve never got in a fight before in baseball. It’s just stupid that he thinks that.

“Obviously, we speak the same language and he knows what I say in a big situation. It’s ‘Let’s go!’” Jimenez said, using the Spanish term. “He took me by surprise and a lot of people talked to me about it. He got me. He hit a homer. I hung a slider and he hit it. I accept that.

“But to act like that and to say something like that to the press – that’s what bothered me. Like I said, I respected him. I respect all those guys in that clubhouse, but this just disappoints me.”

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Jimenez said Sano said stuff to Victor Reyes and then to Austin Romine at home plate after the home run, which also bothered him.

“If it’s against me, why do you have to say something to other people,” he said. “Why do you have to bring other people into it. If you got a problem with me, let’s talk. What’s going on?”

Jimenez said whatever emotions he shows on the mound, they are inward. They are meant to fire himself up.

“I’m not that guy,” he said. “I’m not the guy who is going to do something against the other team. I’m here to play baseball. I’m not here to talk and I’m not here to fight. I’m here to play. It’s just disappointing he thinks like that. And obviously, he was wrong.”

Jimenez doesn’t expect this to be over. The Tigers face the Twins twice more here and then come back for two more later in the month. And, as he said, he feels like he has license with Sano to “do his own thing.”

“I have given up a lot of home runs in the big leagues since I got up and I don’t care if you stand there and pimp it,” he said. “But don’t ever say something to me because I never said something to you. If he pimped it without saying anything, we would be cool.

“But at the same time, he did it the wrong way. So if I strike him out from here out, I’m going to do my own thing. If I strike him out and I look at him, he can’t get mad.”

Tigers at Twins

First pitch: Monday, 2:10 p.m.

TV/radio: FSD/97.1 FM

SCOUTING REPORT

RHP Michael Fulmer (0-0, 7.27), Tigers: He’s coming off his best start of the season, blanking the Brewers on three hits with six strikeouts in his three innings. He’s still searching for consistency, but he was able to make key pitches with every tool in his arsenal.

RHP Michael Pineda (0-0, 3.00), Twins: This is his second start after returning from suspension. He was suspended for violating the MLB substance abuse policy. He tested positive for a banned diuretic.

Twitter @cmccosky