Jimenez hoping versatility leads to clear role
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There was a time, down the stretch in 2013 and in the early stages of the ensuing offseason, when it looked like prospect Luis Jimenez would have a chance to compete for the everyday job at third base this spring.
Then the Angels traded for David Freese, and now Jimenez is in the same position he's been for most of his time with the Angels -- without a clear role, and looking to help out wherever possible.
"It didn't get me down," Jimenez said of the Freese trade, which involved center fielder Peter Bourjos going to the Cardinals on Nov. 22. "You have to come out and play. [Freese is] an unbelievable player, MVP of the World Series and everything, so you have to expect that. I'm not going to say I'm mad that they did that. I'm just happy for the team, because we tried to get the best players so we can win."
Jimenez, ranked ninth among the Angels' Top 20 prospects by MLB.com, batted .260/.291/.317 in 110 plate appearances with the Halos last year, but missed a significant amount of time.
The 26-year-old Jimenez was out for nearly two months, from mid-June to early August, after sustaining a torn labrum in his right shoulder while diving back to second base on a pickoff play. Then, while with the Angels, his season ended on Sept. 7, when he re-aggravated his shoulder injury while trying to avoid the tag of then-Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski.
Jimenez didn't require offseason surgery. He spent the first two months rehabbing in Arizona, then stayed away from winter ball when he flew back to his native Dominican Republic, and says his shoulder feels just fine now.
He's been a third baseman his entire pro career, but if Jimenez stands any chance of sticking with the Angels out of Spring Training, he knows he'll have to be more versatile.
"The team is already made," said Jimenez, who went 2-for-4 with a run scored in the Angels' 3-2 win over the D-backs on Monday at Salt River Fields. "We have our team. It's a good team. Everybody knows who's the guy. My plan right now is just, whatever they need me for, I'll be available. If they need me as a catcher, I'll be there."