Ubaldo faces familiar foe in Pujols

Ubaldo faces familiar foe in Pujols

Ubaldo faces familiar foe in Pujols
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It might only be Spring Training, but there was still a certain level of excitement at Goodyear Ballpark when The Big U was asked to face The Big A in the first inning on Thursday afternoon.

Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez and Angels slugger Albert Pujols are familiar with one another from their days in the National League. This, however, was the first time they were able to square off as American League opponents.

"You don't want to look bad," Jimenez said with a wide smile. "So, you probably put a little bit more on the fastball."

Even though it was just a Cactus League showdown, Jimenez admitted to being fired up.

"I like the challenge," Jimenez said. "He's a really tough challenge. Ideally, you don't want to face him with the bases loaded or anything like that, but it's fun."

Pujols showed off his power when he yanked a pitch from Jimenez deep into foul territory down the left-field line, where it cleared a funnel cake stand and left the ballpark. Jimenez eventually issued an eight-pitch walk to Pujols as part of a 31-pitch first inning, during which the righty labored to control his sinker.

Jimenez allowed two runs -- both in the first inning -- on two hits in his two innings of work. In all, he threw 39 pitches, including 19 for strikes. Jimenez noted that he stuck only with fastballs, splitters and one curveball. He does not plan on working in all of his pitches until he gets comfortable with his fastball location.

"The first inning my fastball was moving way too much," he explained. "I didn't have good control of the fastball. When I tried to throw it low, it was too low."

Jimenez, who blames his early-season health woes for his struggles last year, added that he was thrilled to get through his second Spring Training outing feeling strong. A year ago with Colorado, Jimenez injuried his right thumb in his second outing. The starter also dealt with a nagging groin injury.