Tigers reliever Joe Jimenez drops weight in order to shed 2017 struggles
ORLANDO, Fla. — The Detroit Tigers say hard-throwing right-handed reliever Joe Jimenez has lost 20-25 pounds and has spent the off-season in Lakeland, Fla., the team's spring training home.
Dave Littlefield, Tigers vice president of player development, said Tuesday during a media session with Detroit reporters at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort that Jimenez would go back to Puerto Rico for the holidays and then return to Florida in January. Littlefield saw Jimenez in Lakeland last week and shared the update on his weight loss.
Jimenez, listed as 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, tweeted out a video of his workout in Lakeland on Tuesday.
“He was at a point where we actually were concerned,” Tigers general manager Al Avila said of Jimenez’s conditioning. “We’d tell him ‘Hey listen, if you’re going to continue to progress and get better as a baseball player you’ve gotta make sure that you watch your weight … your overall health and athleticism.’ We put him on a program and he’s followed it to a T. He’s been in Lakeland. He chose to stay there and do strength and conditioning, nutrition, the whole thing.”
Jimenez, who turns 23 on Jan. 17, made his debut with the Tigers last season but struggled. He had a 12.46 ERA in five appearances in April before he was sent to Triple-A. He returned in August and had a 12.27 ERA in 19 appearances over 14 2/3 innings.
“With him there were some mechanical things that needed to be adjusted,” Avila said. “And I don’t think we ever got him on the right track from a mechanics point of view.”
He had a 1.44 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP in 26 appearances for Triple-A Toledo.
“It wasn’t his weight or he was out of shape,” Avila said. “He actually was in good shape. The thing about the weight is – from our perspective – we felt it was be in his best interest to lose some weight because it would only help him perform better.”
More on Tigers:
The Tigers believe by trimming off some pounds, it’ll help Jimenez repeat his delivery better.
“I think one of the things we really gotta work on with him is his mechanics, his release point, the delivery and all that and get it to repeat over and over and over,” Avila said.
The Tigers have been careful not to rush Jimenez through the system and don’t want to place a lot of expectations on him for 2018.
Jimenez will come to spring training with a chance to make the Opening Day roster for first-year manager Ron Gardenhire.
“Sometimes players have wake up calls,” Avila said. “I think when you’re young you don’t look at yourself in any big need of ‘Oh, I gotta lose weight or I gotta get stronger or I gotta make this adjustment.’
“You’re out there throwing BBs and you’re getting outs and you’re riding that high.Then all of a sudden you hit a wall. ‘Maybe I do need to make some changes here.’
“Let me put it this way, he’s a great makeup guy from the sense that he works, he listens, and he’s got the ability to do it. It’s all in his hands right now.”
Iggy not iffy
While the Tigers seem destined to trade second baseman Ian Kinsler, possibly before leaving the MLB Winter Meetings, they don’t expect to move shortstop Jose Iglesias.
Iglesias has hit .255 each of the past two seasons after being an All-Star in 2015. He set career-highs with 33 doubles, six home runs and 54 RBIs in 130 games last season.
Avila said right-handed reliever Shane Greene has always drawn interest from other clubs, but that the Tigers aren’t actively calling teams in an effort to move him.
Greene, who is arbitration eligible for the first time in 2018 and a free agent in 2021, was 4-3 with nine saves last season. He had a 2.66 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP with 73 strikeouts in 67 2/3 innings.
Avila said the teams have continually expressed interest, but the Tigers haven’t been tempted to part with Greene so far.
Greene was used in the closer role last season. While it’s possible he could fill a different role this season, Gardenhire said roles end up being determined in spring training.
Contact George Sipple: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @georgesipple. Download our Tigers Xtra app for free on Apple and Android devices!