IL notes: Health a key issue for Jimenez

Bisons catcher says Tommy John surgery has helped development

An elbow injury limited A.J. Jimenez to 94 games over the 2012 and 2013 seasons. (Ken Jancef/

By John Wagner / Special to | July 28, 2014 10:00 AM ET

It's not unusual for baseball players to undergo Tommy John surgery, so it's not out of the ordinary that Buffalo's A.J. Jimenez had the procedure in 2012.

But as a catcher for the Bisons, Jimenez realizes the surgery is not typical.

"That's a pitcher's surgery," he said. "But like pitchers, catchers throw a lot. It was the worst thing that has happened in my career, but also the best thing."

The best thing? Yes, said Jimenez, because it's aided his development, especially helping improve his off-field work.

"I know how to prepare myself now and how to stay strong," he said. "I also can feel when I'm feeling good and when I feel bad."

The 23-year-old has been feeling good most of the season, and he has the offensive numbers to prove it. In his first 49 games, Jimenez batted .274 with a homer and 19 RBIs.

Buffalo manager Gary Allenson believes Jimenez is going to be a good hitter.

"He does a good job of using the whole field," the former big league catcher said. "There is a question of whether he's going to hit for power, but so what if he doesn't?

"He's hit some balls to dead center at our place that have been caught at the wall. If he pulls them into the gap a little, they will be homers. And for some guys, they find a way to tap into their power when they hit the Major Leagues."

But the calling card for Jimenez throughout his career has been his defense, and his arm seems to have bounced back nicely from the surgery. The 6-foot, 225-pound backstop has thrown out 12 of 29 would-be basestealers this season, meaning he's gunned down 41.1 percent of those trying to steal against him.

That mark would rank among the IL leaders if Jimenez had played in enough games to qualify.

"I didn't see him before he had the Tommy John [surgery], so he may not have the arm strength he had," Allenson said. "He's still learning about calling a game, setting hitters up and stuff like that. But he does get rid of the ball well and he's very good with the ball transfer."

Jimenez has not committed an error in 38 games behind the plate and also has just two passed balls. And the Puerto Rico native said the injury allows him to connect with other pitchers in a unique way.

"I have people asking me [about Tommy John surgery]," Jimenez said. "It isn't the same for a pitcher and a catcher, but some things are the same: You have to keep the shoulder strong, for example. I do have guys who ask what to do and what not to do."

After the surgery limited him to 27 games in 2012 and 67 contests a year ago, Jimenez said he had a simple goal for this season.

"I'm just trying to stay healthy," he said. "I know I have to hit well and catch well, but I think the main thing for me is to stay healthy."

In brief

Hotter than July: Syracuse SS Emmanuel Burriss saw his batting average steadily rise from .243 in April to .270 in May and .337 in June. But those who thought his June average would be tough to top should note that a 4-for-5 outing against Gwinnett on July 27 gave him a 10-game hitting streak and raised his batting average to .385 in July. For the season, Burriss ranks eighth in the IL with a .306 average and fourth with a .387 on-base percentage.

Slammin' streak: Charlotte 1B Andy Wilkins posted an 11-game hit streak that's raised his average from .249 to .286. But Wilkins' 25-for-46 stretch (.543) has been about more than just hits -- it includes a whopping 10 homers as well as five doubles, meaning Wilkins has a 1.304 slugging percentage during the streak. He's also taken the league lead with 26 homers.

He said it: "No. No chance." -- Columbus SS Francisco Lindor to the Columbus Dispatch on July 26 when asked if he's become a home run hitter after belting a pair against Norfolk. He batted .333 in his first five games with the Clippers following a promotion from Double-A Akron.

He said it, part II: "[Nate Spears] has been swinging the bat and he's done a nice job bouncing around. He adds a little speed to the lineup, range on defense and it doesn't hurt he's been hitting homers and doubles. I think he enjoys playing and is grateful for the opportunity. It kind of shows." -- Lehigh Valley manager Dave Brundage to The (Lehigh Valley) Express-Times. Spears, who began the season in independent ball, has hit .323 with a pair of homers and 13 RBIs in his first 36 games with the IronPigs.

John Wagner is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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