It appears a natural facet of his personality, but Luis Jimenez considers his antics in the dugout part of his job.
The Angels animated third baseman, filling in for the injured Alberto Callaspo, has evidently provided a lift to a clubhouse that is in need of a jolt.
“That’s part of my job too,” Jimenez said. “Wherever I am, I try to be the most fired-up guy there.”
The 25-year-old from the Dominican Republic is used to being the most fired up guy in Salt Lake City. Since being called up from Triple-A on April 12 to make his major league debut, he is hitting .474 and has scored six runs in six games, making an increasingly convincing case to remain with the parent club.
His ability to play both corner infield positions is what makes him the most valuable according to Angels manager Mike Scioscia, though first base is crowded. His value in the clubhouse is more difficult to measure, but he is drawing comparisons to a player who made quite the impact when he was brought up from the minor leagues last year – a guy named Mike Trout who nearly won the MVP.
“I think there’s definitely parallels you can draw between the energy, between the way they go about getting ready for a game, during a game in the dugout,” Scioscia said. “On the field, these kids are coming up playing hard.”
Jimenez’s success could be traced to some changes made this year, including switching to a larger glove that has noticeably improved his defense. His track record at the plate is certainly respectable, having hit .309 last season at Triple-A Salt Lake and finishing fifth in the Pacific Coast League with 85 RBIs.
Scioscia doesn’t expect him to continue approaching a .500 batting average, but wasn’t shy about indicating he may remain in an Angels uniform for some time.
“I don’t know if he’s going to keep the pace up, but there’s no doubt he’s a good hitter,” Scioscia said. “We’re going to look forward to getting Alberto Callaspo back in the fold but anytime a player plays well, you’re carving out a role for yourself as you continue to perform.”
Callaspo, who hit .273 with three RBIs in nine games, is nursing a strained calf that will keep him on the disabled list until April 28. After that, Jimenez isn’t sure what to expect.
“I can’t control any of that,” Jimenez said. “I’m happy no matter where I am as long as I’m in the lineup.”