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A lot of things went right for the Colorado Rockies last season, and one thing that went very right was the play of young pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez. The 26-year-old Dominican was clearly the Rockies’ most dominant pitcher, and this year, he’s being rewarded for it.
The team has announced that Jimenez will be the opening-day starter when the Rockies begin the 2010 campaign April 5 in Milwaukee (via The Associated Press). Jimenez went 15-12 last year with a franchise-history low 3.47 earned-run average.
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The Denver Post writes that Jimenez had heard rumors he might get the starting spot, but he wasn’t sure until he was called into manager Jim Tracy’s office yesterday. Inside, he found Tracy sitting with 2007 and 2009 opening-day starter Aaron Cook, who wanted to be present when Tracy told Jimenez about his first opening-day starting opportunity.
Backup catcher Miguel Olivo thinks Jimenez has all the makings of an ace and “could win 20 games easily.” MLB.com reports that Cook anticipated Tracy’s decision and supports it 100 percent. The announcement comes two days after Jimenez led the Rockies to a 12-0 beatdown of the Los Angeles Dodgers, a sign of good things to come (via the AP).
But it’s not as if the Rockies—like every other team in the majors—don’t have questions circling over them. Bleacher Report highlights a few of them, with perhaps the most important being whether 2008 opening-day starter Jeff Francis can give the Rockies between 10 and 15 wins this year after missing all of 2009 with a shoulder injury. Francis was shelled by the San Francisco Giants recently, giving up four runs on four hits and walking two batters.