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June 12. 2013 8:52PM

He's back

Rober Brown's On Baseball: Fisher Cats' Jimenez back on track


Fisher Cats catcher A.J. Jimenez practices with the team on Tuesday in his return after Tommy John surgery and a stint with Single-A Dunedin. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

THERE WAS a fresh but familiar face behind the plate for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats on Tuesday night.

Catcher A.J. Jimenez, who was on New Hampshire’s opening-day roster last year, was promoted from Class-A Dunedin and joined the team in time for Tuesday’s contest against Akron. He had one hit in four at bats.

Jimenez, 23, made his Double-A debut last year, but had Tommy John surgery after spending 27 games with the Fisher Cats. He underwent surgery in May.

“I had a partial tear since I was in high school,” Jimenez explained. “I played through it for three years.

“I was playing here and one throw I felt it again and that was it. It hurts on every throw, but on one throw it felt like it popped again. Not too many catchers have the surgery. Probably too many throws.”

Jimenez hit .257 with two home runs, two doubles and 10 RBIs in his 27 games with the Fisher Cats last season. Baseball America lists him at No. 11 among Toronto’s top-ranked prospects.

“I had a good time here (last year),” he said. “This is a great league and we had a good clubhouse. The surgery came, but I always stay positive.”

Toronto selected Jimenez in the ninth round of the 2008 draft. He was an outfielder until his final two years of high school.

“He’s an above-average defensive catcher,” New Hampshire manager Gary Allenson said. “He’s athletic. He receives the ball well.

“His hitting is getting better. He looks like he’s a guy who stays on the ball and uses the middle part of the field, which is important.

“I’ve known (former major league catcher) Ernie Whitt for 30 years. He was with the Blue Jays so he’s seen (A.J.) play, and he’s the Phillies catching coordinator now. I asked him about (A.J.) and he said, ‘This guy is really good.’ If it comes from Ernie Whitt it means something.”

Jimenez said he experienced shoulder trouble earlier this season. He began the season on the disabled list, but was activated on May 2. He returned to the disabled list from May 14 to June 6.

“If everything was according to plan he was the starting catcher here at the beginning of the season,” Allenson said. “Then he had some setbacks. Probably compensating for something. When you’ve had something done and you feel a little something there’s some doubt there. It’s hard mentally to get over that.

“Then there’s the weather. If you have a guy with arm issues or who’s had surgery you want to keep them in that warm Florida sun.”

Jimenez has thrown out 42 percent of the runners who have attempted to steal against him during his professional career. He was named the Florida State League’s best defensive catcher in 2011.

In nine games with Dunedin this season, Jimenez batted .429 with one home run and nine RBIs.

“I’m getting better at hitting, but my thing is catching,” Jimenez said. “I’m a proud catcher. That’s where I spend 90 percent of my time. You have to hit to get to the big leagues, but I think the defense will get you a lot of baseball.”

______

OFFENSIVE ACTION: New Hampshire right fielder Brad Glenn collected two of his team’s five hits in Tuesday night’s 7-0 loss to Akron. Glenn has at least one hit in nine of his last 11 games, and is batting .375 during that span.

Glenn, who was drafted by the Blue Jays out of the University of Arizona, is hitting .268 in 55 games this season.

Email staff reporter Roger Brown at rbrown@unionleader.com. Follow him on Twitter @603SportsMedia.


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