Rondon has bullpen session, Leyland talks more on closer
As promised, closer candidate Bruce Rondon and pitching coach Jeff Jones spent a good chunk of Wednesday morning’s batting practice in the bullpen, working on his delivery. They worked a little on his release point, and they worked some on getting his legs involved in his delivery again. Asked how it went, Jeff Jones tried to emphasize not what he saw, but how Rondon felt about it.
“He felt good about what he was doing,” Jones said.
Whether that makes a difference won’t be known until Friday, when he’s scheduled to make his next game appearance against the Mets at Joker Marchant Stadium. Manager Jim Leyland called it “a little adjustment,” but said he didn’t know how much of a difference it might be.
“I think the best way to put it is I think this kid is potentially a fantastic closing prospect,” Leyland said. “Is he ready for that? I can’t answer that. I don’t want to shed any negative light on the Rondon situation, because there is none to be shed. I think this kid has all the equipment. The question is going to become, I think, at some point: Is he ready? Plain and simple. And if he’s not ready, the Detroit Tigers will absolutely be fine. I have total confidence in the guys we’ve got. We’ve got plenty of equipment out there. We may maneuver it a little bit different. It’ll be a second-guesser’s haven and all that. But that’s OK. In our profession, we’re used to that. That just goes with the territory.”
Leyland tried to downplay some of the sense of panic about their closing situation, saying he’ll be comfortable with whatever they end up doing with their bullpen. But he reiterated it would be easier to have a set closer than a bullpen by committee.
At this point, though, he isn’t sure how it’s going to end up.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t know,” Leyland said. “But we’ll have somebody. And who knows, it might be Bruce Rondon.”
Leyland also revised his remarks a bit on Rick Porcello as a potential closer.
“I don’t think it’s a far-out idea,” Leyland said. “I just think it’s highly unlikely.”