GOODYEAR, Arizona (AP) — Ubaldo Jimenez can now focus on getting hitters out instead of how to throw.
Jimenez, using a new delivery this spring, allowed three runs in seven innings of the Cleveland Indians' 4-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Sunday.
Jimenez didn't realize it until midseason last year that he was hesitating before delivering the ball to the plate. He's worked on it all spring and is confident he has found a solution.
"I don't even have to think about my mechanics," Jimenez said. "I'm thinking more about how to pitch a hitter. I can concentrate on what pitch to throw in what count."
When the 29-year old left-hander won 46 games, including 19 in 2010, with the Colorado Rockies, he was throwing at 100 mph. Now after two so-so years in Cleveland, he doesn't even think about it.
"So many people worry about velocity. Now all I worry about is getting the hitters out."
Also, the Indians released Daisuke Matsuzaka from his minor league contract, but they are expected to re-sign him to a new deal that could become official as early as Sunday night.
The Japanese right-hander will likely begin the season with the Indians' Triple-A team in Columbus.
The Indians had until Tuesday before Matsuzaka would have been owed a $100,000 payment under baseball's collective bargaining agreement.
Matsuzaka allowed two runs and 10 hits in eight innings covering four spring outings.
First-year Indians manager Terry Francona is the beneficiary of Jimenez's improvement.
"The progression continues," Francona said. "He got out to the point where he could have kept pitching, but we wanted to get Cody (Allen) in the game so we told him he was going to face two hitters then finish up in the pen.
"He continues to build. It was a tremendous outing. He built endurance. He pounded the strike zone. He continues to work on his delivery and the results are showing for itself. When he's right even when they square the ball up, he's always got the chance to throw a double play when he's right."
He gave up four hits, including back-to-back doubles to Anthony Rizzo and Alfonso Soriano in fourth inning. He struck out three and walked one, leaving the game trailing 1-0.
Chris Rusin, who will start the season at Triple-A Iowa, shut down the Indians in 5 1-3 innings. The left-hander allowed singles by Mike Aviles and Nick Swisher. He walked three and struck out three.
The Cubs' fourth pick in the 2009 draft out of the University of Kentucky, struggled with his command.
"He got through it," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "He didn't have much command. Rusin was effectively wild. He made pitches when he had to.
"He has good movement and a cutter that can get outs. He got off the hook a little bit with them swinging out of the strike zone, especially in that first inning. He wasn't as sharp as he's been this spring that's for sure but he got away with it."
Michael Bowden pitched a scoreless 1 2-3 innings for Chicago. Casey Coleman gave up two runs in two-thirds of an inning and Jensen Lewis allowed a run in the ninth.
Aviles hit a two-run single off Coleman in the eighth.
NOTES: Indians SS Asdrubal Cabrera was removed from the lineup with spasms in his back after batting practice. ... RHP Chris Perez will pitch in an A game on Tuesday. Perez, recovering from a right shoulder strain, pitched in a minor league game on Saturday. He has been out since Feb. 26. ... OF Matt Carson suffered forehead lacerations and cervical strain after running into the right-field wall against Seattle. X-rays were negative. ... Cubs SS Starlin Castro celebrated his 23rd birthday Sunday. ... RHP Carlos Marmol has not allowed a run in his past seven outings, covering 6 2/3 innings