It's too early in spring to know whether the numbers should be worrisome, whether it matters that Ubaldo Jimenez isn't throwing as hard as he once did, or whether it matters that he is giving up more hits and more runs.
It's not too early to realize that there was more going on with Jimenez and the Rockies than most of us realized last year.
Thursday, after Jimenez gave up two runs in an ugly first inning against the Angels, he spoke glowingly about his current employers (the Indians) and not as glowingly about the team that traded him to Cleveland last July.
"I feel happy here," Jimenez said. "This is like being in heaven for me."
As opposed to Colorado.
Jimenez wouldn't detail all of his issues with the Rockies, but he said they went back to his time in the minor leagues.
"It was kind of hard being with the Rockies," he said. "I went through a lot. People outside the organization don't know."
Jimenez told Foxsports.com earlier this spring that he wasn't happy that when the Rockies gave big new contracts to Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, they didn't do the same with him. Jimenez signed an extension in January 2009, so he's making just $4.2 million this year and has a $5.75 million club option for 2013.
But Jimenez suggested his complaints went far beyond the contract, and the way he talks about the Indians hint at what those complaints were.
"You only hear good things about this organization," Jimenez said. "They treat everyone the same. They don't care how much money you signed for."
Jimenez's first two starts this spring haven't gone well. He gave up five runs in one inning Sunday against the Reds, although four of those runs were unearned. Thursday, he gave up two runs in a 31-pitch, two-walk first inning, then rebounded with a clean second inning.
Jimenez blamed his issues Thursday on a lack of command of his fastball, but his velocity was just 90-94 mph, a little low even in spring training for a guy who at his best is in the high 90s.
For Jimenez, getting through the second start of the spring healthy was an improvement over last year. He hurt his finger in his second start last spring, and the injury seemed to playh a part in his poor start to the season.
After going 6-9 with a 4.46 ERA in 21 starts for the Rockies, Jimenez was traded to the Indians in a deal that cost them two top pitching prospects, Drew Pomeranz and Alex White. Jimenez went 4-4 with a 5.10 ERA in 11 post-trade starts for the Indians.
White made news this spring by getting caught for drunk driving. Pomeranz has begun this spring with five scoreless innings for Colorado.
"[The trade] worked both ways," Jimenez said. "They're happy. I'm happy."
He's happy, and it doesn't even matter to him that the opening day assignment that belonged to him the last two years in Colorado will go to Justin Masterson this year with the Indians.
"He deserved it," Jimenez said. "He earned the spot."
Last year, Madson entered games to "Don't Stop Believing'." Theoretically, he could do the same this year, since the song isn't exactly tied to Philadelphia.
But Madson said he doesn't want it. In fact, when the Reds asked him what song he wanted, he said he told them he didn't want anything.
"I just want to go out there and get three outs," Madson said Thursday morning.
Madson is in good spirits, despite some elbow soreness that has kept him out of early Cactus League games, and despite a winter that saw him leave the Phillies after talks about a multiyear contract strangely fell through.
"I'm a simple guy from California," he said.
He signed a one-year deal with the Reds for $8.5 million, a little apprehensive about changing teams for the first time in his career.
"I didn't really know what to expect, but it's been great," he said. "I like all the guys. They're very cool."
And about what happened at the end in Philadelphia, when he was offered at least a three-year deal and then seemed close to signing a four-year deal?
The Diamondbacks manager seems as driven as he was last spring, his first as a big-league manager. He's as determined as ever to live up to Sparky Anderson's legacy.
"Sparky would be proud," he said Wednesday, looking out at the Diamondbacks' well-organized workouts.
Gibson's first full year as a manager was a success, with the Diamondbacks grabbing a surprising National League West title and Gibson winning NL Manager of the Year honors.
But Gibson and his coaching staff still changed a few things this spring, notably putting a much bigger emphasis on pitchers hitting.
"We hope it will help us let the starters go longer in games, and tax the bullpen less," Gibson said.
Most National League teams use the designated hitter early in spring, to provide extra at-bats for the many position players in camp. But Gibson had his pitchers hit Wednesday against the Indians, partly because he wants Trevor Cahill to get as many spring at-bats as possible.
Cahill came to the plate just 12 times in his three years with the A's, and with one infield hit and two sacrifice bunts his only successes.
"He swings decent," Gibson said.
Cahill is 24, and he said he last hit regularly in high school.
"I have no power, but I spray the ball around pretty well," he said.
Diamondbacks pitchers led the National League with 58 hits and a .186 batting average last year, helped by Daniel Hudson hitting .277.
Can they do better this year? Can the Diamondbacks do better than their 94-win season that ended with a first-round playoff loss to the Brewers?
I don't know that, but I do know that their manager seems every bit as into it as he was a year ago.
I'm lucky, and I realize that. I get to travel from camp to camp, and hear great old baseball story after great old baseball story.
Gregg Olson heard them for years when he pitched for nine big-league teams in a 14-year career. Then he retired, and he decided to collect them.
Like the one about Mark Grace getting taped to the trainer's table because he called Rick Sutcliffe an "old man." Or the one about George Brett not taking the field to start an inning because he was so upset about a slump that he went and hid in a trash can.
Or the one from Goose Gossage, about the time teammate Mickey Rivers forcibly tried to keep him from coming into a game.
"We don't want Goose to come in," Rivers told the umpire. "We want to win this game."
Olson went to ex-teammates and anyone else he knew in the game, and asked each for his best story. He put 60 of them in the book, titled, We Got to Play Baseball.
Some of the stories are about games. Some have nothing to do with games.
It's a quick read, but it's a fun read.
Olson and his co-author, Ocean Palmer, say they're already working on another book with the next round of stories.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto says he fully expects Bobby Abreu to be with the team through the spring and into the season.
"Absolutely," Dipoto said Tuesday.
Some baseball people who talk to the Angels aren't so sure, believing that there's a real chance that the Angels will work hard to trade Abreu between now and opening day. It would take the Angels eating a good part of Abreu's $9 million salary, but the thought is that they may be willing to do it.
The Angels certainly have been open to dealing Abreu, who turns 38 next week. They spoke to the Yankees about an Abreu for A.J. Burnett deal before Burnett was traded to the Pirates, but Burnett had the right to veto a trade and wasn't interested in going to the West Coast.
For now, the Angels' position is that they have room for Abreu, and that he can help them. Manager Mike Scioscia told reporters last week that he had assured Abreu he will play more than once or twice a week.
"He's going to get at-bats," Dipoto said.
Abreu, who has been sick and has been held out of the lineup the last couple of days, isn't saying that he wants out.
"I'm here right now," he said. "I'm here with my boys."
Those teammates would like to see him stay.
"Why would I want that?" Torii Hunter said, when it was suggested that Abreu could be traded. "Bobby's good, man. He's helpful to the other hitters, too. I know he wants to play, but he's valuable to our club, playing or not."
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In a perfect world, where money was no issue, perhaps the Giants would have signed Jose Reyes to be their leadoff hitter.
But money is an issue, and the Giants are saving as much of it as they can to pay Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and the rest of their pitchers.
So Angel Pagan, who cost about $100 million less than Reyes after the Giants acquired him in a trade with the Mets, is the new leadoff man.
He's not Reyes, but he did learn from him. And he won't need to be Reyes to be a lot better than what the Giants had atop the order in 2010.
As much as the Giants' offense suffered from the loss of Buster Posey, another huge problem last year was that their leadoff men combined for a .292 on-base percentage. Only the Orioles and Nationals were worse.
Pagan has a .341 on-base percentage in 154 career games leading off for the Cubs and Mets.
"To me, Jose's one of the best leadoff hitters in the game," Pagan said Monday. "I've played with good leadoff hitters, Jose and Juan Pierre. I know what it's all about. My job is to set the table for the big boys, Pablo [Sandoval] and Buster."
But Pagan knows from playing with Reyes that a top leadoff man does more than just set the table. He knows how much the leadoff man can influence the game.
"When you have an energetic person at the top, you have that spark," Pagan said. "You want to bring that type of energy. [Reyes] injected that energy in the lineup.
"Hopefully, I can be that. I'm ready to help this team."
In the first couple of Cactus League games, manager Bruce Bochy has paired Pagan and Melky Cabrera (also acquired in a winter trade) atop the lineup. It's not clear whether they'll both stay there once Freddy Sanchez is healthy, but the plan has been for Pagan to lead off.
Bochy knows that getting the leadoff man on base is crucial if the Giants are to score more runs. They scored just 570 last year, a dropoff of 127 from the championship team of 2010.
"I think it played a critical part in our lack of run production," Bochy said. "We know we'll be more consistent with Angel and Melky.
"Plus, it's hard to imagine we won't do better with runners in scoring position."
The Giants figure they'll get the best effort possible out of Pagan and Cabrera, both of whom are entering their free-agent years.