08/17/2003 12:33 PM ET
Notes: New role for Jimenez?
NEW YORK -- Colorado Rockies manager Clint Hurdle tossed the intriguing name of Jose Jimenez into the mix as a possible replacement starter for Shawn Chacon, who left Saturday night's 13-4 loss to the Mets because of right elbow inflammation.
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
Jimenez was the Rockies' closer for 3 1/2 seasons until an ineffective stretch cost him the spot in June. He has pitched in long relief since.
But before the Rockies acquired Jimenez from the St. Louis Cardinals in the Darryl Kile deal in 1999, Jimenez was a starter of some renown. He finished 1999 with a 5-14 record, but one of the wins was a no-hitter, and the other a two-hit shutout. Both were against Arizona and Randy Johnson.
"Jimenez could be an option," said Hurdle, who needs a starter for Thursday night at home against the Florida Marlins. "He's done it before. He's thrown a no-hitter."
Other options have their pluses and minuses.
At Triple-A Colorado Springs, right-hander Jason Young pitched well in his last stint with the Rockies but left one recent game and missed another with a rib-cage injury, left-hander Cory Vance has been solid this season but hasn't received a call, even though there were times when he could have been used, and right-hander Scott Elarton has won four in a row but struggled in an earlier stint in Colorado's rotation.
The Rockies' bullpen includes former starters Aaron Cook and Adam Bernero, but both have become integral members of the bullpen.
Moving Jimenez to the rotation could weaken the bullpen, but Hurdle said Jimenez is in better shape for a start.
"Who's thrown four innings three times in the last two weeks besides Jimenez?" Hurdle said. "I don't think Cook or Bernero can give you much more length than three innings right now."
Earlier in his career with the Rockies, Jimenez entertained dreams about going back to his starting days, but his success in relief -- 102 saves, the most in Rockies history -- convinced him that he was on the right career path. But now Jimenez is a short-timer trying to be a good employee.
At $3.55 million for this season, Jimenez is an expensive long reliever. He is eligible for arbitration, but he is a cinch to be nontendered and could end up elsewhere. Jimenez asked to be traded, but when there was no market for him, he settled into his role and kept quiet.
"No one's talked to me," Jimenez said when asked about the possibility of returning to an old role. "I'm just trying to help the team."
Leave me in: Hurdle is having the hardest time getting players off the field, even when they need to come out. Hurdle asked Chacon repeatedly about his elbow until the pitcher admitted it was bothering him.
Hurdle's decision to remove Todd Helton after the first baseman fouled a ball off his knee sparked a loud, heated exchange between the two in the runway between the clubhouse and the dugout.
Helton said he was not necessarily upset to be taken out, but that Hurdle was planning to give him Sunday off as well.
"I don't have anything else to do today," Helton said on Sunday, which saw him back in the lineup.
Hurdle gave right fielder Larry Walker a day off on Sunday, as has been the Rockies' usual practice this season for day games after night games.
Bernero fortunate: Bernero had some swelling and an abrasion on Sunday, the day after he was hit in the neck and right jaw with a line drive. But he stayed in the game, and Hurdle didn't think the incident would affect his availability.
"We'll see how it plays out -- it was his jaw, not his arm," said Hurdle. "I saw him eat breakfast. Obviously, he wants to get back out there.
"He had to pass a battery of questions and answers from Keith [Dugger, Colorado's assistant trainer] to make sure he knew where he was. He knew the score, he knew the pitch, he knew the situation, he knew the batter."
Bernero stayed in the game and gave up hits to Jose Reyes and Mike Piazza, but Hurdle said both hits were on good pitches.
Bernero said it was the first time he had been hit in the face like that but that adrenaline helped keep him in the game.
"You kind of get fired up and want to get the hitters," he said.
End of streak: Left-handed relief pitcher Javier Lopez saw a string of 18 straight batters retired snapped when he intentionally walked Jason Phillips in the sixth inning on Saturday night. Lopez wound up falling three short of Darren Holmes' Rockies record, set Sept. 13-28, 1996.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.