On Friday, Indians manager Manny Acta named sinkerballler Justin Masterson the club's Opening Day starter for the Tribe's April 5 home game against the Blue Jays. Jimenez will slide behind Masterson, but it is hardly viewed as any kind of demotion.
"He knows," Acta said. "He understands that, hey, his job is to be a No. 1 pitching out of the No. 2 spot."
Last July, Cleveland acquired Jimenez from Colorado as part of a five-player package that shipped prized pitching prospects Drew Pomeranz and Alex White to the Rockies. The Indians made the deal with the belief that Jimenez could right the wrongs of 2011 and regain his form from the previous season.
Under the circumstances, Jimenez was hardly offended to be passed over for Opening Day.
"I didn't have a good year and he did," Jimenez said. "He did a really good job. He deserves it. He earned that spot and I'm happy for him. He told me it's his first time getting Opening Day, so it's really exciting."
Overall last year, Jimenez went 10-13 with a 4.68 ERA in 32 starts between his time with the Rockies and Indians. After joining the Tribe, the right-hander went 4-4 with a 5.10 ERA in 11 appearances down the stretch. It was a far cry from his 2010 showing, when Jimenez went 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA for Colorado.
Masterson, on the other hand, went 12-10 with a 3.21 ERA last season, emerging as a workhorse for the Indians and one of the game's top young arms. Masterson said he was honored to receive the Opening Day nod, but he added that he would have been fine with Jimenez earning the job, too.
"If he gets it, hey, that's understandable for all that he's done," Masterson said. "But it's great that I've gotten that opportunity. Hopefully, I'll thrive and do the best that I can."
As for the rest of the rotation, Acta said the alignment of the Nos. 3-5 spots will likely be sorted out in the final 10 days or so of Spring Training. Derek Lower and Josh Tomlin will occupy two of the available spots, and the fifth job will come down to one of Kevin Slowey, Jeanmar Gomez, David Huff and Zach McAllister.
"What we'll do is we'll wait until we know we can match them up the best way possible," Acta said. "And if somebody is behind a little bit, we can move them around. That's why you don't announce them this early. It's not about the order so much. It's about ... being able to cover yourself."