Rondon: “It’s a new season, and I’m ready to go.”
Bruce Rondon is ready to look ahead. If he puts forth the effort, the Tigers are ready to look past last September.
Rondon talked with reporters Friday for the first time since being sent home with two weeks to go last season for effort level. He did not do much talking about that, preferring to look at this spring as a fresh start for him.
“It was difficult,” he said through a translator, “but it’s a new year, and I’m ready to go.”
At another point in the 10-minute interview, he made it clear he was looking forward.
“It was a decision made back then,” he said. I don’t really want to go back to that, but like I said, it’s a new season, and I’m ready to go.”
Manager Brad Ausmus said he talked briefly with Rondon, who seemed to be in good spirits. There was nothing specific he was seeking other than better overall maturity.
“He seemed to be in a good frame of mind,” Ausmus said. “Last season’s in the past. We’re hoping that he’s the guy that the Tigers had thought he is for really the last three or four years, before I even arrived.”
Rondon said teammates received him well. It was not clear if he said anything to them.
He is in relatively good health, despite his battle with Chikungunya, the virus he caught in Venezuela over the winter. Everything hurt, he said when asked to describe it, and it knocked him about a month behind schedule in his workouts. He has made up a good chunk of the gap, to the point that he thinks he’ll be caught up with a couple more mound sessions.
“Feeling good,” he said. “I’m concentrated and ready to go.”
The virus, as well as a December fight with a baserunner, interrupted an encouraging winter ball campaign. Rondon said he went in working on his secondary pitches with good success, and that his arm felt much improved after nearly two years since his Tommy John surgery.
“It feels like my arm is the way that it was before,” he said.
That might not be enough to get him on the Opening Day roster, especially with late-inning roles already filled with veterans. Still, if he can put last year and everything that happened behind him, he would be pretty happy.
“In baseball, you learn small things every single day,” he said, “and that was a difficult time. I’m ready to keep learning and move ahead.”