July 31st, 2009

Robertson, Bonderman could rehab next week

Unless they’re unusually sore in their arms tomorrow, both Nate Robertson and Jeremy Bonderman are on track to begin Minor League rehab assignments next week after they pitched in a simulated game Friday afternoon at Cleveland.

Robertson threw 45 pitches, or the equivalent of about three innings, to a group of Tigers hitters that included Ramon Santiago, Ryan Raburn, Clete Thomas and Dusty Ryan. Once again, he noticed a little more bite in his pitches, the product of an elbow free of the tissue masses that were moved during surgery last month.

“It’s what the hitters see,” Robertson said, “and [Thomas] said he had a tough time picking up the rotation on my slider, which is good. It gives you more deception. The ball was moving pretty good, too, for the most part. I got jumpy on a couple pitches, but when I got the ball out front, it had the movement and the rotation that I want.”

Bonderman threw about 35 pitches over two innings, all out of the stretch in preparation for the relief role he’ll have if he comes back to pitch this season. He said his arm is feeling “a lot better than it did” in his previous rehab work earlier this season, enough that he feels confident he can get back and contribute this year.

“I feel pretty certain that I’ll be all right this time,” he said. “We’ll see.”

When team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski was asked what he expects out of their situations, he was guardedly optimistic.

“Do I expect them [to come back]? I can’t tell you that I expect them,” Dombrowski said. “Am I hopeful? Yes.” 

A couple key points to note are that Robertson would pitch as a starter in rehab, and that it won’t be a quick sasignment. Robertson said the goal is to be ready at the end of August, which would point toward a September call-up when rosters expand.

While Bonderman will pitch in relief, that doesn’t mean anything for his future use beyond this year.

“Next year, we would project him as a starter,” Dombrowski said. “We just think [this works now] strengthwise in his arm as much as the ability to build him up. There’s been an indication, just because of everything he’s been through, after he throws 25-30 pitches, his stuff falls off.”