Day 1: Rondon starts off camp firing

It took one day of spring training for Jim Leyland to put a cutoff on Bruce Rondon evaluations. As he put it, he’s not going to give daily updates on where Rondon stands.

For that matter, he isn’t planning on maintaining a scoreboard for the Rick Porcello/Drew Smyly competition for the fifth starter job, either.

“We know we have two guys capable of starting in the big leagues, and one of them is going to start for sure,” Leyland said Tuesday morning.

Leyland usually warns at some point early in every camp that he’s not going to do evaluations on guys fighting for jobs, trying to avoid having players read everything he says to try to gauge where they stand. Leyland just usually doesn’t put a halt on that this early. The flock of national writers already this week — four in the last two days, by my count — and the repeated questions about Rondon brought it on.

Now that formal workouts have started, reporters can get a look at Rondon for themselves. His first bullpen session Tuesday morning was impressive.

Rondon is big and imposing, but he doesn’t look as big as he’s listed. In fact, as I wrote in the notes on the site today, fellow relief prospect Melvin Mercedes looks bigger.

His fastball is imposing enough. Even this early in camp, he came out throwing fastballs — not necessarily game-speed fastballs like Joel Zumaya used to throw early in camp, but still pretty good. He had a smooth delivery that seemingly belied how hard he can throw. But then, you wouldn’t expect a violent delivery to show up in an early camp session.

It was enough to pique the curiosity for his later sessions, and especially his game appearances coming up. He certainly had the attention of Leyland, who stood a few feet away with pitching coach Jeff Jones for about half of Rondon’s session. He talked with assistant GM Al Avila about him as well, picking out stuff he noticed.

Look for a few more of these bullpen session on the back fields at Tigertown before live sessions against Tiger hitters begin. It’ll be fascinating to see who Leyland and his staff group up to face Rondon, at least the first time around. Remember, while his pitch quality isn’t in question, his command is something they’ll be watching.

A few more bullpen notes as we get underway with daily updates from Lakeland:

  • Though Leyland doesn’t guarantee they’ll break camp with two lefty relievers, he expects that theywill. That was in question this offseason with some of the moves they made (Daniel Schlereth nontendered, Matt Hoffman outrighted, no free agents added), as well as the willingness Leyland has to use Al Alburquerque and Brayan Vilarreal against left-handed hitters because of their swing-and-miss potential. “I think that we’ll have two left-handers in the bullpen,” Leyland said, “and Phil Coke will be one of them.”
  • Leyland said he felt like Luke Putkonen made “a lot of progress last year.” Whether he progresses into the conversation for a long relief spot remains to be seen.

20130213-064622.jpg

22 Comments

Why they bought Lobstein then?

No more Oliver. No more Wilk. Hoffman off 40 man. Below had a tough return trip at Toledo. Therefore, we go for Lobstein in Rule 5. If he looks good on St. Pat’s Day can we cut a deal with the Rays?? Who could we send them??

I agree with jim’s pre-emptive move to end the speculation. Let the players play and then we will all know what should and will happen. If their ready it will show.

Just a little national media onslaught for the reigning AL champs. I’d get tired of answering the same questions too, but it’s a well earned bother. Rondon will certainly be the story this spring.
For lefties, Darrin Downs is still there. He showed some promise.

20.2 innings with a 1.306 WHIP, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.7 K/9……. I’d say that was a good rookie performance for a lefty reliever! He can always start in AAA as well of course and come up if/when someone gets sent down

Catching up…JL reportedly reads Beck’s Blog. If so, I assume he reads Mr. Beck’s take. Does that mean he also reads, or even cares about what posters have to say?

And Fielder looked studly in his Topps presentation.

I would think JL does not go to the blog just to see what posters say.

well of all the blogs i visit this one has some of the better commentors. myself being the least of which.

any health status info on Vilarreal?…believe he was an early shutdown in winter ball due to elbow or shoulder soreness

absolutely – how is BV!? In 56 innings he earned the 6th lowest WHIP on the staff at 1.2

It’s my opinion that if Smyly doesn’t make the team as a starter then he will not be on the roster as a reliever because he’s in camp working with Jeff Jones on further developing his change up, so I’ve read anyway. A reliever does not try to develop four pitches as he already has the fastball, slurve (appears to look like a slider/curve when he throws it) and the cutter, which I really liked by the way, that he used when he was a starter vs just the fastball and breaking ball he was using when he was in the bullpen for the stretch run and playoffs. If there’s so much talk about needing a sixth starter at some point during the season then it doesn’t make sense to take your best available starter and use him as a reliever then only to try to stretch him out when he needs to start. I LOVE Smyly especially what he brings to the Tigers rotation, a lefty with good stuff, a smooth delivery and very good mound presence. If Porcello is indeed the teams fifth starter then I hope that Smyly is sent to Toledo to further develop his stuff…and so I can see him more every fifth day!

will be interesting to see if they’ll consider Smyly for the 2nd pen lefty if he doesn’t get a rotation spot

would you? I’d probably send him to AAA. Get him working on his stuff more regularly

It’s my opinion that if Smyly doesn’t make the team as a starter then he will not be on the roster as a reliever because he’s in camp working with Jeff Jones on further developing his change up, so I’ve read anyway. A reliever does not try to develop four pitches as he already has the fastball, slurve (appears to look like a slider/curve when he throws it) and the cutter, which I really liked by the way, that he used when he was a starter vs just the fastball and breaking ball he was using when he was in the bullpen for the stretch run and playoffs. If there’s so much talk about needing a sixth starter at some point during the season then it doesn’t make sense to take your best available starter and use him as a reliever then only to try to stretch him out when he needs to start. I LOVE Smyly especially what he brings to the Tigers rotation, a lefty with good stuff, a smooth delivery and very good mound presence. If Porcello is indeed the teams fifth starter then I hope that Smyly is sent to Toledo to further develop his stuff…and so I can see him more every fifth day!

assuming Rondon starts season as closer…wonder how comfortable they’ll be using him to work consecutive games. according to one stat reference from last season, Leyland went to Valverde 31 times on back to back games…higher than most closers. for instance Johnson in Baltimore saved 51 games, but pitched consecutive days only 20 times.

The problem with using one closer is that he may not be needed for a week, so you get him out there just to get some work. Then you have close opps on four consecutive days. This is where Dotel, Benoit, and Coke would come in. Coke thrived in the postseason on the adrenaline rush and LH hitting lineups. Is Cleveland still as LH heavy as last year?

didn’t the PECOTA comparables associate Rondon and Matt Anderson? OUCH!

My other team (Pittsburgh Pirates) signed Brandon Inge to a minor league deal. Actual think it is a good fit for both sides. Pittsburgh is very young and could use Inge’s positiveness in the club house (if he makes the team).

Talk is of Brandon being a super-sub if he makes the team, which I think he will. That’s a good role for him at this stage.

Yes, the Indians will be LH heavy if Brantley and Chisenhall are starters. Those two guys will have to beat out Stubbs and Aviles. For us, we start against MN and the Yanks. Certainly the potential for good match ups for Coke. Personally, would prefer a two man closer set up for April. Rondon pitched fifty some innings last year?????????????

With the base running skills of VMart, Fielder and Miggy ahead of them in the lineup, it will be important that Andy (or Alex) and Peralta reach the seats more than they did last year. If the Tigers can reduce their average of 7 men left on down a bit more to 6 LOB per game, then the mission will be more easily accomplished.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 24,778 other followers