Bonderman has Tommy John surgery, eyes comeback

Former Tigers starter Jeremy Bonderman confirmed Wednesday that he underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this week in hopes of making a comeback next spring.

Buster Olney of ESPN.com first reported the news. Bonderman confirmed his plans in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon with MLB.com, explaining his decision to give it one more try after disappearing from the game following the 2010 season.

“I just got the itch to give it another shot,” Bonderman said. “I’m going to work out, try to get a team to give me a chance. Hopefully I can get a team to give me a shot.”

Bonderman last pitched in 2010 with the Tigers, posting an 8-10 record and a 5.53 ERA in 30 games, 29 of them starts. He gave up 187 hits over 171 innings with 60 walks and a 112 strikeouts.

The Tigers announced at the end of that season that while they would be interested in inviting him back on a minor-league deal, they wouldn’t pursue him for a guaranteed contract. Bonderman stayed on the market all winter before staying home.

Bonderman said Wednesday he blew out his elbow that offseason while working out. He said his elbow was fine when he was pitching in 2010, having come off surgery and shoulder problems that limited him the previous two years.

Bonderman said he didn’t know the full extent of his elbow problems until he underwent a physical for the Cleveland Indians, who were interested in signing him. That deal obviously fell through once the results came back. A follow-up exam with noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lewis Yocum confirmed the damage.

“Dr. Yocum looked at it, told me it was pretty bad,” he said.

That’s when he decided to go home and hang it up, a retired player at age 28 coming off a four-year, $39 million contract. He visited the Tigers when they were in Seattle last season, but that was about it. That 2010 season, and the frustration that came out of it, lingered with him.

“I got a little bored at not throwing the ball very well,” he said. “Getting your [butt] kicked every day, it got old.”

After a year at home, he said, the itch came back. Once he’s recovered enough, he hopes to work out with a trainer this summer, find a team willing to sign him to a minor-league contract, then give it another shot in the spring, when he’ll be 30 years old.

Ironically, it’ll be 10 years after he won a spot in the Tigers rotation at age 20, jumping from Class A to the big leagues.

4 Comments

Best of luck to Jeremy. He helped the Tigers during one of their worst times. Let’s see if he can make a comeback somewhere. It’s been done before by other pitchers.

He may not have been the most popular Tiger at times, but I always liked the guy. He had the best line from 2008. When he had the emergency surgery, the guys hung up his jersey in the dugout. Upon being told of this, Bondo said, in that Sylvester Stallone-like voice, “I’m not dead.” Good luck, my man.

Hope things work out for Jeremy – a good guy by all accounts

He is still pretty young. I hope he gets healthy enough to give it another shot. I always said that he has/had the mentality of a closer. And with only 2 pitches he could still work out of a bullpen, in the best case scenario.

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