Asdrubal, Ubaldo set to play winter ball

Asdrubal, Ubaldo set to play winter ball

DALLAS -- The Indians want to help pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez feel confident in his offseason preparation when Spring Training opens and the club wants shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to feel strong by the time September rolls around.

That is why both are going to play winter ball.

On Monday at the Winter Meetings, Indians general manager Chris Antonetti indicated that Jimenez will likely make between four to seven starts for Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Winter League. Cleveland is currently working with Cabrera to determine how much action he will see in Venezuela.

Jimenez, who is coming off a subpar season spent with the Rockies and Indians, expressed to the Tribe a desire to pitch in winter ball. The right-hander did not participate last winter and he felt that contributed to what was an up-and-down year on the mound. The Indians were willing to let him work a limited amount.

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"We're still learning about Ubaldo and his preparations for the season," Antonetti said. "We know that he felt it was important to pitch winter ball this year. He didn't pitch last year and he felt that affected his preparation for the season. We've had dialogue with him to talk through the parameters of what made sense."

Antonetti said the details of Jimenez's work load are still being determined. As of right now, the 28-year-old starter -- acquired from Colorado at the July 31 Trade Deadline -- is slated to make his winter debut on Dec. 15. Indians manager Manny Acta is planning on attending Jimenez's first outing.

Last season, Jimenez went 10-13 with a 4.68 ERA over 32 starts overall. Down the stretch with the Indians, he went 4-4 with a 5.10 ERA in 11 outings. That showing came after a stellar 2010 campaign, during which Jimenez went 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA to finish third in the National League Cy Young Award voting.

This winter, Jimenez and fellow Tribe starter Fausto Carmona have been working with Nelson Perez, the Indians' assistant strength and conditioning coach in the Dominican Republic. Antonetti noted that Jimenez is beginning his sixth week with Perez as part of the pitcher's offseason regimen.

The Indians are also working closely with Cabrera on his winter workout schedule, which currently includes a limited number of at-bats in winter ball. Once that is complete, Antonetti said the shortstop will likely transition back to the United States (either in Cleveland or at the team's site in Goodyear, Ariz.) to work closer with the Tribe's staff in the weeks leading up to Spring Training.

Antonetti said one of the Indians' goals is to find a way to keep Cabrera strong through the entire season. Last year, the All-Star shortstop hit .293 with a .836 OPS in the first half before hitting .244 with a .729 OPS in the second half. Overall, Cabrera posted a .273 average with 25 homers, 32 doubles and 92 RBIs in 604 at-bats.

"We've talked to Asdrubal about, 'OK, how do we help you prepare for the duration of the season, and hopefully playing another month beyond September?'" Antonetti said. "That's an important part as we look to his preparation for the season and what he does this offseason to keep him strong in the second half."

The Indians have asked catcher Carlos Santana not to take part in winter ball in the Dominican Republic. Over 552 at-bats last year, the 25-year-old Santana hit .239 with 27 homers, 35 doubles, 79 RBIs and a .351 on-base percentage. He led the Indians with 155 games played.

"There are different circumstances with each of those guys," Antonetti said.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.