2/4/2013 12:50 A.M. ET
Jimenez soaks up experience in Caribbean Series
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
HERMOSILLO, Mexico -- Angels third-base prospect Luis Jimenez didn't exactly set the world on fire during the Dominican Republic's winter league regular season, batting .231 with a .671 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). But in the playoffs, he did, with a .365 average and three homers in 52 at-bats.
Now, thanks in large part to that, he's here, taking in his first Caribbean Series experience with a Leones del Escogido team that's looking to win its second straight title and third in the last four years.
"This is awesome," Jimenez said in Spanish. "It's your country, you feel happy to play here, and you get something out of this, too. There are a lot of veterans here that you can learn from, which I like a lot."
Jimenez is essentially a backup third baseman in this Series, with 38-year-old Fernando Tatis -- whose last season in the Majors came in 2010 -- the starter. Tatis is just one of several big-name players on an Escogido club that, on paper, is the best in this tournament. And for advice, the 25-year-old Jimenez can also pick the brains of fellow infielders Miguel Tejada, Hanley Ramirez and Julio Lugo.
One subject he's interested in of late: the grind.
Jimenez played his first season of Triple-A last year, impressing with a .309 batting average, 16 homers, 85 RBIs and 17 steals. And this year, with the Angels stacked on the Major League side and looking for more versatility out of their backup infielder, he looks primed to spend his eighth pro season playing there again.
He also doesn't have a clear path to the big leagues. The Angels recently agreed to terms on a two-year deal with starting third baseman Alberto Callaspo, and when his deal expires, the prevailing thought is that Kaleb Cowart -- rated the No. 1 prospect in the Angels' system last year and 67th overall in 2013 by MLB.com -- will take over.
"I'm not going to say that's disappointing, because you have to understand the team they have in Anaheim," Jimenez, ranked ninth in the Angels' system, said. "It's a very good team, and they have a lot of good ballplayers. I'm going to do my job, the same job everyone has to do, and leave it in their hands. They'll decide what to do with me."
MLB executive Ng visits new Mexico stadium
HERMOSILLO, Mexico -- Major League Baseball senior vice president of baseball operations Kim Ng made an appearance at the Caribbean Series on Sunday, touring the brand-new Estadio Sonora and meeting with Caribbean Baseball Confederation president Juan Francisco Puello Herrera regarding potential usage by Major League teams in the future.
"They've done a great job," said Ng, the former Dodgers executive who was hired by MLB in March 2011. "I didn't really know what to expect, but having seen it, having gotten a tour, they've done a very nice job.
"I haven't seen a lot of international parks, but from what people are telling me, this is right up there, if not the best in Latin America."
Officials in Mexico have big aspirations for Estadio Sonora, a 16,000-capacity ballpark that cost about $31 million and seemingly rivals any Cactus League stadium in neighboring Arizona. They want to host D-backs Spring Training games, house some exhibition contests leading up to this year's World Baseball Classic and, perhaps down the road, be the site of a round in the Classic or a Major League Opening Day.
"I'm still trying to soak it in," Ng said of Major League teams using the ballpark this year. "It's probably out of my realm at this point, but I'm sure it'll get discussed at some point later on."
Stadium officials have also been involved with D-backs president Derrick Hall, and Hall's special assistant, former outfielder Luis Gonzalez, was also at Sunday's game.
Ng doesn't decide which park hosts rounds in the Classic, but added: "Certainly I think the facility is worthy of consideration."
Tejada adds to Caribbean Series homer record
HERMOSILLO, Mexico -- Dominican shortstop Miguel Tejada homered in Sunday's much-anticipated game against Mexico, giving his Leones del Escogido a 2-0 lead and padding his own milestone.
Tejada's shot, coming against Edgar Gonzalez with one on and none out in the bottom of the second, was the 14th he's hit in his Caribbean Series career, adding to an all-time home run record he already held. Nine innings later, in the bottom of the 11th, Ricardo Nanito's two-out, walk-off hit gave Escogido a 6-5 win to stay undefeated at 3-0.
Tejada, a six-time All-Star and former American League MVP, is playing in his 12th Caribbean Series, dating back to 1997.
That's why, around here, they call the 38-year-old shortstop "El Pelotero De La Patria."
"This is where I started at the Caribbean Series," Tejada, who signed a Minor League deal with the Royals this offseason, said about Hermosillo. "I don't want to say it's my last one, but there are a lot of memories for me here."
With 44 career Caribbean Series RBIs, Tejada is one behind Tony Batista for the record. Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez holds the mark for most homers in a Caribbean Series game, hitting three for Mexico in 2009.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.