Rockies riled up after Ubaldo drills Tulo
Manager Tracy calls plunking of star shortstop 'gutless act'
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies manager Jim Tracy called Indians pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez hitting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki in the elbow with a pitch on Sunday, "the most gutless act I've seen in 35 years in the game."Jimenez, unhappy with his contract situation with the Rockies before being traded last July, drilled Tulowitzki on the left elbow with his first pitch of a first-inning plate appearance. Tulowitzki escaped serious injury; X-rays was negative, meaning no structural damage. Tulowitzki expects to play in a couple of days after the swelling goes down. Jimenez had been critical of the Rockies in interviews, and Tulowitzki was critical of Jimenez in defending the Rockies. After the game, a livid Tracy called for Major League Baseball to suspend Jimenez. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig attended the game. "To do something like that and then walk down off the mound, if there's any suggestion whatsoever that the ball got away, I don't want to hear any of that," an angry Tracy said. "He should be suspended. I'm going to be very disappointed if he doesn't get suspended, because he deserves to be suspended.
Both Tulowitzki and Gonzalez had big 2010 performances, but Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd said the team wasn't going to do three such deals, having been burned by big-money contracts to pitchers in the past.In some of the back and forth between the Rockies and Jimenez in various media interviews, the Rockies have said they felt Jimenez shut down on them last year. "My thoughts are still the same," Tulowitzki said. "I live by what I said. I stand up for this organization. If I feel like if anybody were to take shots at this organization and how much pride I take in being a Rockie, I'd say the same things that I said before." Tracy, who defended Jimenez publicly last year, joined that chorus Sunday. "Knowing what I know, knowing what took place last year, and where this team was at going into the second month of the season and he was nowhere to be found at the time, I've lost all respect for him," Tracy said. "I'm not normally like this, but when I see some act like that, I'll get like this. And what I know took place. This has been a camp just like the one we ran here last year -- very successful one here last year, very successful here this year, off to a great start last year. He doesn't check in. It's very, very disappointing." Jimenez began the game by walking Marco Scutaro, then struck out Tyler Colvin looking before hitting Tulowitzki.
Jimenez quickly threw his glove to the dirt and pounded the chest after the ball hit Tulowitzki, but said he only became upset when Tulowitzki yelled something at him."He was calling me names," Jimenez said. "He was calling me a chicken, but not a chicken. Another really aggressive word that I can't say right now. That's why I was [doing that]. I said you're calling me out?" Tulowitzki said he yelled something at Jimenez, but said there was "back-and-forth." He also said it looked as if Jimenez was looking for a fight. "From my take, as soon as he hit me, it seemed like he wanted a little more," Tulowitzki said. "That's when the confrontation kind of took place." Tracy said Tulowitzki did not charge the mound, which should be taken into account if there is disciplinary action. "I give our player all the credit in the world, because he looked out at him and basically was asking him what the [expletive] he was doing," Tracy said. "Now this guy starts marching off the mound. Now you don't think there was some intent there? "That's intent right there." Jimenez went 19-8, started the All-Star Game and threw the first no-hitter in Rockies history in 2010. But last season, Jimenez battled a thumb cuticle issue and right groin strain early and didn't win a game until June 1. The Rockies began the season 11-2 mostly without him, but by May began to falter. Jimenez was traded to the Indians for pitchers Drew Pomeranz, Alex White and Joe Gardner and utility man Matt McBride on July 31. Jimenez actually started against the Padres as the trade was being completed and threw a distracted inning -- a situation that Jimenez brought up in preseason interviews." Just before Sunday's game the Rockies announced that Gonzalez would not play because of a stomach ailment. Tulowitzki said he didn't expect Jimenez to hit him and was not going to avoid playing because the possibility existed. "It's not the type of person I am to avoid anything," he said. "I want to go out there and compete, regardless who's on the mound. If there's confrontation before or after, I'm out there to play this game." Before the X-ray results were announced Jimenez said, "I don't want to hurt him at all." Tulowitzki responded, "That's something he's going to have to live with. It's something he's going to have to answer not only to [the media] but his teammates."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.