Rockies taking cautious approach with Jimenez

Posted April 05, 2011, at 9:36 p.m.
Last modified April 05, 2011, at 11:22 p.m.

DENVER — The Colorado Rockies plan to take a cautious approach with the cracked cuticle on Ubaldo Jimenez’s pitching hand.

Rockies manager Jim Tracy hasn’t ruled the hard-throwing righty out of his scheduled start Friday in Pittsburgh, but won’t make any definitive decisions until Jimenez tosses a bullpen session Wednesday — his hand willing, of course.

Jimenez had tape on his right thumb in hopes of speeding along the healing process. And while the thumb is beginning to feel better, Jimenez said he can still feel it.

In Friday’s opener, Jimenez couldn’t generate spin on his breaking pitches, giving up six runs — five earned — in six innings against Arizona. The next day Jimenez revealed the hidden reason behind his poor outing: He couldn’t put any pressure on the ball, losing sizzle on his blazing fastball.

“It’s getting better,” Jimenez said in the clubhouse before a game Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers. “But we’re probably going to take it a little bit slowly, so it can get perfect. We’re not trying to rush anything.”

Tracy doesn’t want the thumb to get to the point where it’s a nuisance each time his ace takes the mound. That’s why he’s willing to wait, adjusting his rotation if necessary.

“We don’t want to push it to the point where we take major steps backward,” Tracy said. “If there’s any doubt in our mind, we’re going to error on the side of caution, I can promise you that.

“But I’m not ruling anything out right now. He doesn’t want it that way. We’ll keep seeing how that finger continues to improve.”

With a rainout Sunday, lefty Jorge De La Rosa could easily slide into Friday’s slot and still throw on full rest. De La Rosa left Saturday’s game against the Diamondbacks with a blister on the middle finger of his left hand but wasn’t all that concerned. He said this is nothing new as he typically develops blisters in his first few starts before his fingers become callused.

As of now, Jason Hammel will make his season debut Wednesday against the Dodgers, with Esmil Rogers opening the three-game series in Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

From there, the rotation remains up in the air until a decision is made on Jimenez’s status.

“There’s a number of different things we can do,” Tracy said. “But (Jimenez’s thumb) looks much better. I saw the finger, know what the finger looks like today in relation to what it looked like Sunday. We’ve made great strides.”

In fact, the skin is already starting to harden, a good sign.

“But if it’s not all the way there yet, and there is that little bit left there, where he’s one pitch away from tearing it back and you’re right back to square one again … it makes no sense to do that in my mind,” Tracy said.

Nor to Jimenez.

“I still feel it. But not as much as I did before,” said Jimenez, who won a team-record 19 games and threw the first no-hitter in franchise history last season. “It’s still there, but getting better.”

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