Jimenez to Likely Undergo Tommy John

MANCHESTER, NH- A major reason to watch New Hampshire Fisher Cats baseball this season got on a plane to Dunedin, Fla., this week. There, highly touted Blue Jays catching prospect A.J. Jimenez will be checked out by the team doctor, and it will likely be confirmed that Tommy John Surgery is in his near future.

The recovery process will leave the Fisher Cats without Jimenez's stellar play behind the plate for the rest of the season and possibly for the first few months of 2013.

Kevin Gray of the Union Leader in Manchester, NH., reported last Saturday morning that A.J. Jimenez was seen leaving North Delta Dental Stadium "with his elbow wrapped", and that he had pictures taken at a local hospital indicating Tommy John surgery was likely. Jimenez has not played since last Sunday, May 13, when he had one at bat.

Jimenez had been dealing with pain from the ulner collateral ligament in his throwing arm for a few years already while it tears and re-heals itself, according to Fisher Cats manager Sal Fasano. Last week, it looked like Jimenez's ligament had torn to a point where he might not be able to heal naturally and still throw a baseball, making surgery the likely route.

"It comes to a point where it gets to here (the state Jimenez‘s ligament is in now), and you've got to decide whether you want to play with it or not," said Fasano. "That hurts."

Jimenez is leaving behind an already decimated baseball team (17-25 as of May 22), one still struggling to replace last year's Eastern League champions. Losing Jimenez only adds to their compounding problems.

Defensively, Jimenez has been outstanding. He leads the league in caught stealing percentage with 55 percent, the closest among EL starting catchers being Harrisburg‘s Sandy Leon with 41 percent (as of May 20).

When gunning down runners, Jimenez is balancing the speed of his throw with his accuracy. Fellow Fisher Cats catcher Brian Jeroloman, 27, and now a sixth year veteran, has seen and noted this as a sign of maturity.

"[A.J.] recognizes a guy getting a slower jump, he'll take something off the ball, but he becomes more accurate," said Jeroloman. "You don't see a lot of younger catchers that can understand that part of the game. That's usually way too advanced for young catchers."

Jimenez is a pitcher's catcher, well ahead of his years in calling games. The New Hampshire hurlers always look forward to playing with him.

"I put the utmost trust in A.J.," said Fisher Cats starting pitcher Deck McGuire. "I'd say on any given day I'd maybe shake him three or four times, and if you think about it, in the course of a hundred pitches, shaking a guy four times, he's got a pretty good feel for what you're trying to do."

"A.J.'s fantastic at [calling games]," said Fisher Cats pitching coach Tom Signore. "Look at his numbers. Our numbers are pretty good as a staff when he catches. And that's not to bemoan Brian (Jeroloman), it's just that A.J.'s done such a good job."

Jimenez is also great with keeping pitchers upbeat when they're struggling with their performance. McGuire, who with a 2-5 record has struggled a bit this season, finds a lot of comfort in him.

"There's times where I haven't had my best stuff. I've been getting beat up there a little bit, but he never quits on me," said McGuire. "We put the smile on my face, we joke, we laugh. Sometimes, where some other people might think we're ridiculous because I'm laughing when we're having a mound visit and getting hit all over the yard, he knows what it takes to get me relaxed and get me back down in the zone and keep getting outs."

Jimenez already has the natural ability packed into his 6-foot, 210 lb athletic frame. Fasano hopes he can help Jimenez harness that raw talent by strengthening his muscle memory through rep work.

"In some fashion, defensively, yes (he could advance to the next level), but there's still a lot of work that needs to be done," said Fasano, a former catcher. "He can play in the big leagues right now if he wanted to, but it's the state of consistency that he's got to get to."

To sharpen him mentally, Fasano might ask him why he called a certain pitch or what his approach was with a specific hitter. The point is for Jimenez to learn to pay strong attention to every detail.

"Just sometimes it's even his body language," said Fasano. "If I see him hanging his head a quarter of an inch, I know he's upset. I have to tell him not to."

Jimenez's batting has been less impressive than his defense. Last year in Dunedin, he hit for a .303 batting average. This year, he's only hit .257 through 27 games. Earlier in this year, he told Futurejays.com that he'd wanted to hit for more power, but he's only hit two homeruns, half of his total last season. Before being placed on the DL, it seemed Jimenez was struggling adapting to Double-A pitching.

Defense is Jimenez's game, though. In this early stage of his career, his peers see him as freakishly talented.

"It's noticeable when every person sees it," said Jeroloman. "When it's almost, in a sense, the games feeling too easy for him defensively right now, that's when you know you're ready to move on, and truthfully A.J. is showing that."

"I‘m glad we have a lot of good catchers in the system because there‘s a lot of systems where he wouldn‘t be at Double-A anymore," added Signore.

At the moment, Jimenez's number one concern is the confirmation of his surgery this summer. He'll find out this week in Dunedin.

Future Jays Top Stories

\r\n \r\nThe recovery process will leave the Fisher Cats without Jimenez's stellar play behind the plate for the rest of the season and possibly for the first few months of 2013.
\r\n\r\n
Kevin Gray of the Union Leader in Manchester, NH., reported last Saturday morning that A.J. Jimenez was seen leaving North Delta Dental Stadium \"with his elbow wrapped\", and that he had pictures taken at a local hospital indicating Tommy John surgery was likely. Jimenez has not played since last Sunday, May 13, when he had one at bat.
\r\n\r\n
Jimenez had been dealing with pain from the ulner collateral ligament in his throwing arm for a few years already while it tears and re-heals itself, according to Fisher Cats manager Sal Fasano. Last week, it looked like Jimenez's ligament had torn to a point where he might not be able to heal naturally and still throw a baseball, making surgery the likely route.
\r\n\r\n
\"It comes to a point where it gets to here (the state Jimenez‘s ligament is in now), and you've got to decide whether you want to play with it or not,\" said Fasano. \"That hurts.\"
\r\n\r\n
Jimenez is leaving behind an already decimated baseball team (17-25 as of May 22), one still struggling to replace last year's Eastern League champions. Losing Jimenez only adds to their compounding problems.
\r\n\r\n
Defensively, Jimenez has been outstanding. He leads the league in caught stealing percentage with 55 percent, the closest among EL starting catchers being Harrisburg‘s Sandy Leon with 41 percent (as of May 20).
\r\n\r\n
When gunning down runners, Jimenez is balancing the speed of his throw with his accuracy. Fellow Fisher Cats catcher Brian Jeroloman, 27, and now a sixth year veteran, has seen and noted this as a sign of maturity.
\r\n\r\n
\"[A.J.] recognizes a guy getting a slower jump, he'll take something off the ball, but he becomes more accurate,\" said Jeroloman. \"You don't see a lot of younger catchers that can understand that part of the game. That's usually way too advanced for young catchers.\"
\r\n\r\n
Jimenez is a pitcher's catcher, well ahead of his years in calling games. The New Hampshire hurlers always look forward to playing with him.
\r\n\r\n
\"I put the utmost trust in A.J.,\" said Fisher Cats starting pitcher Deck McGuire. \"I'd say on any given day I'd maybe shake him three or four times, and if you think about it, in the course of a hundred pitches, shaking a guy four times, he's got a pretty good feel for what you're trying to do.\"
\r\n\r\n
\"A.J.'s fantastic at [calling games],\" said Fisher Cats pitching coach Tom Signore. \"Look at his numbers. Our numbers are pretty good as a staff when he catches. And that's not to bemoan Brian (Jeroloman), it's just that A.J.'s done such a good job.\"
\r\n\r\n
Jimenez is also great with keeping pitchers upbeat when they're struggling with their performance. McGuire, who with a 2-5 record has struggled a bit this season, finds a lot of comfort in him.
\r\n\r\n
\"There's times where I haven't had my best stuff. I've been getting beat up there a little bit, but he never quits on me,\" said McGuire. \"We put the smile on my face, we joke, we laugh. Sometimes, where some other people might think we're ridiculous because I'm laughing when we're having a mound visit and getting hit all over the yard, he knows what it takes to get me relaxed and get me back down in the zone and keep getting outs.\"
\r\n\r\n
Jimenez already has the natural ability packed into his 6-foot, 210 lb athletic frame. Fasano hopes he can help Jimenez harness that raw talent by strengthening his muscle memory through rep work.
\r\n\r\n
\"In some fashion, defensively, yes (he could advance to the next level), but there's still a lot of work that needs to be done,\" said Fasano, a former catcher. \"He can play in the big leagues right now if he wanted to, but it's the state of consistency that he's got to get to.\"
\r\n\r\n
To sharpen him mentally, Fasano might ask him why he called a certain pitch or what his approach was with a specific hitter. The point is for Jimenez to learn to pay strong attention to every detail.
\r\n\r\n
\"Just sometimes it's even his body language,\" said Fasano. \"If I see him hanging his head a quarter of an inch, I know he's upset. I have to tell him not to.\"
\r\n\r\n
Jimenez's batting has been less impressive than his defense. Last year in Dunedin, he hit for a .303 batting average. This year, he's only hit .257 through 27 games. Earlier in this year, he told Futurejays.com that he'd wanted to hit for more power, but he's only hit two homeruns, half of his total last season. Before being placed on the DL, it seemed Jimenez was struggling adapting to Double-A pitching.
\r\n\r\n
Defense is Jimenez's game, though. In this early stage of his career, his peers see him as freakishly talented.
\r\n\r\n
\"It's noticeable when every person sees it,\" said Jeroloman. \"When it's almost, in a sense, the games feeling too easy for him defensively right now, that's when you know you're ready to move on, and truthfully A.J. is showing that.\"
\r\n\r\n
\"I‘m glad we have a lot of good catchers in the system because there‘s a lot of systems where he wouldn‘t be at Double-A anymore,\" added Signore.
\r\n\r\n
At the moment, Jimenez's number one concern is the confirmation of his surgery this summer. 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