After a series of injuries that left the Angels infield battered and bruised, rookie third baseman Luis “Lucho” Jimenez was called up from Triple-A Salt Lake to replace an injured Alberto Callaspo (strained calf muscle). Jimenez was determined to make the most of his big league opportunity after working his way through the Angels various minor league affiliates.
Based on his performance thus far, Angel fans are thrilled with the way Jimenez has settled in. Jimenez (who signed with the Angels in 2005) is a utility player who is reportedly comfortable at the two corner infield positions. Lucho’s versatility along with his improved defense has undoubtedly made an impression on manager Mike Scioscia:
He played sensational defense for us at third base [in Spring Training], and I think that’s as important as anything, to be able to play that hot corner and make the plays down there for your pitching staff. He’s come a long way in that.
In just 31 at bats since his debut against the Houston Astros on April 12, 2013, Jimenez has posted a respectable line: .355 AVG/.412 OBP/.452 SLG helping the Angels improve their standing in the AL West to 4.5 games back (.421) of the division leading Texas Rangers.
If Twitter is any indication, Halo fans haven’t been this excited about a third baseman since Troy Glaus was wearing Disney pinstripes, circa 2001. Jimenez has provided the offensive (and defensive) spark that the Angels desperately needed. He’s confident at the plate and animated in the dugout – similar to fellow Dominican Erick Aybar. He’s currently 4th in the AL for double plays turned by a third baseman. Bottom line: Jimenez is fun to watch and is surprisingly comfortable in the big leagues.
When asked about Lucho’s future on the club’s active roster, Manager Mike Scioscia replied:
We’re going to look forward to getting Alberto Callaspo in the fold, there’s no doubt about that, but anytime a player plays well [he's] always carving out a role for himself,” Scioscia said. “We’ll evaluate things over the next couple weeks and see how our roster takes shape.
With Alberto Callaspo set to return from the DL and top Angel prospect Kaleb Cowart slated to be the third baseman of the future, I suspect Mike Scioscia will soon have a difficult decision to make. One thing is for certain, there’s no doubt that “Lucho” is carving out a role for himself in his rookie season.