May 31st, 2009

Eight scoreless innings for Bonderman

Jeremy Bonderman had encouraging numbers as well as stuff this time out. His third rehab start for Triple-A Toledo Sunday night saw the right-hander throw eight scoreless innings on six hits with no walks and five strikeouts against Charlotte, the White Sox Triple-A affliate.

Marcus Thames added his first home run of his rehab assignment, launching a shot deep to left. He’s 5-for-28 in his Toledo stint with four RBIs.

Bonderman needed just 98 pitches to get through his outing, 66 of them strikes. The real impressiveness, though, was in what he threw. He spotted pitches on the corners and, surprisingly, threw some of the best changeups he has had.

“I just didn’t get frustrated,” Bonderman said. “I knew what I had. I just moved the ball around today, up and down, fastballs up, breaking balls. I threw a lot of changeups, good changeups today.

“That’s probably one thing that I’m getting out of this is my changeup’s actually getting a lot better. You have to use what you’ve got.”

Now, to be fair, Charlotte is in the bottom tier of the International League in runs scored and home runs. Nonetheless, it wasn’t until Bonderman’s last couple innings that the Knights drove the ball with any authority. Not only did Bonderman not walk anyone, he only had two three-ball counts.

Bonderman’s fastball ranged from 88 to 90 mph, maybe a tick higher than his last time out but still slower than his previously healthy form. In terms of the art of pitching, though, he looked like a Major League pitcher. Whether he’s going to be in the Majors the next time he takes the mound remains to be seen. Tigers assistant general manager Al Avila was in town watching the game.

Bonderman says he has “no idea” what the next step is. He’s heading up to Detroit regardless to work with pitching coach Rick Knapp and then go from there.

“I feel a lot better today,” Bonderman said. “It’s up to them if they feel like I’m ready or not. My job is to go out here and pitch, get some innings and get my pitch count up, which is what I’ve been doing. That’s what I’ve been doing. Whenever they feel I’m ready, I’ll go up.”