Results tagged ‘ Jeremy Bonderman ’

Bonderman earns more than a win in Tigers return

The last time Jeremy Bonderman earned a win in a Tigers uniform, he was a starter wrapping up his Detroit tenure. He threw eight innings of three-hit ball on Sept. 8, 2010 against a White Sox lineup that included Juan Pierre, Omar Vizquel (who homered off of him for the lone run), Manny Ramirez, Mark Teahen and Andruw Jones. He didn’t survive the sixth inning in any of his four starts after that, and the Tigers — who were 13 games out in the division race when Bonderman picked up that win — opted not to offer him a Major League contract.

That’s the last time the Tigers went down the stretch without a division race. The way they’re rolling now, you have to wonder if the AL Central will still be a race by the time they get past Labor Day this year. Bonderman’s return Wednesday night, with three innings of one-hit ball in a 14-inning victory, might have played a huge role in the team running away.

“These guys have done all the work,” Bonderman said. “I’m just trying to fit in, see if I can contribute in any way to get this team back to the playoffs.”

The Tigers signed Bonderman in mid-July and called him up Monday to see if he could add some experience in a long relief role. It wasn’t simply sentimentality about giving a former player another chance. And Bonderman is treating it as much. It’s just simply a reunion four for him.

That’s why, when asked if it seemed odd when his Tigers return began with an at-bat against former teammate Ryan Raburn, who just signed a two-year contract extension in Cleveland, Bonderman shrugged it off.

“It doesn’t seem that weird. It’s baseball,” Bonderman said. “I mean, it’s fun to be back and be around all the guys and be back and part of this organization. I’m comfortable here. I know a lot of people. It definitely makes it a lot easier to come in and fit in than probably go to other places. It was just fun, honestly, to get an opportunity to come in and pitch and do my part.”

It wasn’t just experience on display from him. Bonderman, pitching in a relief role without the need to pace himself, threw stuff that looked like a throwback to a lot younger form than 2010. The nasty, biting slider that was his calling card for years in Detroit is still there, and Bonderman got four swings and misses out of the nine that he threw Wednesday according to brooksbaseball.net. He threw four in a row to Yan Gomes in the 11th inning and got swings and misses from the last three. The fastball that had steadily dropped over the years in Detroit had its old punch.

Bonderman’s four-seam fastball averaged 93 mph, topping out at just under 95. He just six fastballs at 94, including back-to-back pitches to Michael Brantley in his third and final inning.

“The only thing different about pitching in the bullpen is you don’t have to reserve anything. You can just let it go,” Bonderman said. “That’s one thing I kind of like. You don’t have to worry about saving anything for seven or eight innings. You can just go out there and let it fly and attack guys.”

If he can let it go like that, that stuff will play.

Bonderman faced the minimum nine batters over three scoreless innings with three strikeouts. He erased Drew Stubbs, whose single made him the only hitter to reach base, with a double play grounder to end the 12th. He gave up a couple of well-hit fly balls that took Austin Jackson back towards the fence in the 13th, but they count all the same.

“Bonderman did a real good job. They all did,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “I thought [Asdrubal Cabrera's] ball had a chance to go off the wall, but Jackson ran it down. Their bullpen did a really good job.”

What’s next for Tigers after Veras

Though Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski told Joel Sherman of the New York Post that Jose Veras would likely be his team’s lone move before the July 31 nonwaiver Trade Deadline, that doesn’t mean Dombrowski isn’t going to try for something else. The next goal appears to be another left-handed reliever to slot with Drew Smyly.

Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reported late Monday night that the Tigers are among the many teams in the mix for Giants lefty Javier Lopez. The Giants have been scouting pitchers at Double-A Erie, including right-handed starter Drew VerHagen, according to a source.

There’s also buzz among other clubs that the Tigers could make a run at one more right-handed reliever for depth. Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune reported Detroit is in the mix for Cubs closer Kevin Gregg. However, there’s a recent history of misguided rumors regarding Tigers interest in Cubs players (Carlos Marmol, Matt Garza, Alfonso Soriano among them) which, along with Gregg’s recent struggles and his 4.27 career ERA and 1.44 career WHIP in the American League (well above his NL numbers) bring the level of interest into question.

The Tigers might be able to fill a right-handed relief spot internally. Octavio Dotel has resumed throwing side sessions in Lakeland in his attempt to come back from elbow inflammation. Meanwhile, Jeremy Bonderman threw two perfect innings of relief at Triple-A Toledo on Monday, stretching his streak to seven scoreless innings on one hit in the Mud Hens bullpen.

Though other teams continue to wait for the Tigers to try to add a shortstop in anticipation of a possible Jhonny Peralta suspension, they’ve no shown sign of heavy pursuit, even with the reported availability of Angels shortstop Erick Aybar and rumors the Giants might listen to interest on veteran middle infielder Marco Scutaro. Two thoughts could be in play: First, if Peralta were to appeal any suspension, it could well push back any discipline until next year. Second, if Peralta received a suspension that would allow him to return in time for the postseason, the Tigers would have to debate just how much production they need out of shortstop to win the AL Central.

Other than those two areas, the Tigers are pretty well set.

Bonderman still watching market for comeback

If the Tigers have offered a formal contract to Jeremy Bonderman, it seems to be a new development to Bonderman. He told MLB.com in a phone conversation Friday that he has left contract matters to his agent.

“I’m just seeing what all is out there right now,” Bonderman said. “But I have talked to Detroit.”

FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi cited sources Friday saying the Tigers have offered Bonderman a contract. It wouldn’t be a complete surprise if they did. When Bonderman became a free agent two offseasons ago, president/GM Dave Dombrowski had a standing offer on the table for a minor-league contract with a Spring Training invite. Bonderman was looking for a Major League contract at that time, and ended up simply staying home.

Bonderman admitted this past spring that he blew out his elbow while working out that offseason. He underwent Tommy John surgery this spring and has worked out ever since then in preparation for a comeback attempt. He said Friday he’s on schedule to be ready for full workouts for Spring Training.

He’s willing to accept a minor-league deal with a camp invite now, which could pave the way for a reunion with the Tigers. At this point however, it would make sense for him to watch the market and see what develops. If he can find a team with a rotation opening, it would give him a better shot at making the team than he might have in Detroit, where the Tigers already have enough established starters to fill out a rotation regardless whether they re-sign Anibal Sanchez.

Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said in an email Friday that he can’t comment on specific free agents, citing current Major League rules.

Dombrowski said last week that the Tigers could look for a starter to compete for the fifth spot if they don’t re-sign Sanchez. Most likely, though, that signing would be an insurance option in case Drew Smyly struggles or somebody gets hurt. The Tigers don’t have the same starter depth in the upper levels of their farm system that they had the past couple years, having traded Jacob Turner and watched Andy Oliver struggle mightily this past season. Duane Below and Adam Wilk are among the depth options they have right now.

Could Freddy return to Detroit? Maybe, but not likely

The Tigers helped get Freddy Garcia back on the mound a few years ago after shoulder surgery, then watched him help thwart their division hopes with the White Sox the following season. Now that Garcia is a free agent again and the Tigers need some starting competition, would a reunion in Detroit be possible, or has he burned his bridges here?

It’s possible, though unlikely at this point. Tigers officials at least pondered the idea this offseason, and Garcia is believed to be open to it. But all indications point towards Brad Penny and Jeremy Bonderman getting more consideration from the Tigers right now as they look for a veteran starter to push Armando Galarraga for the fifth starter spot.

On the list of back-end starting options, the Tigers certainly could do worse.

Garcia went 1-1 with a 4.20 ERA in three starts down the stretch for Detroit in 2008 after missing more than a year rehabbing from labrum surgery. More shoulder trouble in winter ball helped keep the Tigers off him that offseason. He rejoined the White Sox, where he helped win a World Series in 2005, and went 15-10 in Chicago over the last two seasons, but with a 4.56 ERA and 27 home runs allowed over 213 combined innings.

Garcia throws with even less velocity now than he had a few years ago, but he gets more results out of less pure stuff than a lot of pitchers in his situation. As one scout put it, he pitches like he can throw 95 mph. He also has as much experience with AL Central hitters as anyone on the market — 36 plate appearances against Justin Morneau (6-for-29), 35 PAs versus Joe Mauer (13-for-31), 36 with Travis Hafner (15-for-33) and 34 against Jim Thome (5-for-23).

There’s also the 18-7 record he sports against the Tigers, including 2-1 with a 4.39 ERA in five meetings with Detroit last year. His seven innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts at Detroit on the final Saturday of the 2009 season was a major blow in the Tigers’ division collapse, dropping them into a tie with the Twins.

Coke heading to Tigers rotation next year

For those of you who figured something was up when Phil Coke was named to start today’s season finale, you were right. After Jim Leyland said earlier this month that he was still unsure whether Coke was better suited as a starter or a reliever, Leyland said Sunday morning, “My intention is to have Phil Coke in the rotation.”

Coke will slot in behind Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello. Leyland said Armando Galarraga will compete for the fifth spot in a mix that could include some youngsters and maybe a free-agent pickup. He didn’t name Andy Oliver, but one would presume he’ll be a key figure. He did not name Jeremy Bonderman, either, which means we’re probably going to get some news on Bonderman from team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski later today.
Sunday will mark Coke’s first Major League start. He was most recently a starter at Double-A Trenton in 2008.

Tigers to recall Weinhardt Wednesday

The original plan for the Tigers’ September callups was that nobody was probably coming up until Triple-A Toledo’s season ended on Labor Day. There just isn’t much depth left in the farm system. However, Jeremy Bonderman’s rib cage muscle issues might have put a little more urgency in the works. The team announced Tuesday that right-handed reliever Robbie Weinhardt will be recalled Wednesday, the first day rosters can be expanded.

The Tigers sent down Weinhardt a couple weeks ago to work on his slider to go with his sinker. In general, manager Jim Leyland said at the time, his stuff was “up, up, up, up, up.” He has six innings with the Mud Hens since then, allowing an unearned runs on three hits with three walks and seven strikeouts.

Detroit had to go short in the bullpen when Alfredo Figaro made a spot start for Bonderman over the weekend. The Tigers haven’t announced their rotation for next weekend at Kansas City, so we don’t know yet whether Figaro will have to start for Bonderman again on Friday.

Bonderman to be skipped this weekend

Had a question pop up yesterday asking whether the Tigers would start Max Scherzer or Justin Verlander this weekend in Boston. Turns out, the answer is both.

The Tigers have released their rotation for this weekend’s series against the Red Sox, and Jeremy Bonderman will have his spot skipped. The rotation order would’ve brought up his spot Friday or Saturday, depending on whether Jim Leyland wanted to start him or Armando Galarraga first.

Instead, Galarraga will pitch Friday night at Fenway, then Scherzer, then Verlander. It also means Verlander will not pitch next week against the White Sox.

Manager Jim Leyland said Tuesday afternoon that he wanted to keep Scherzer and Verlander on their regular four days of rest. Verlander talked last month about how he has trouble pitching on extra rest. Scherzer said it doesn’t really make a difference with him.
Leyland added that Bonderman will start on three days’ rest after his next outing. Next Tuesday’s day-night doubleheader against the White Sox left the Tigers with a choice — calling up a spot starter or going with a bullpen start. This gives them Plan C.
“What we wanted to avoid,” Leyland said, “is sending somebody down and bringing somebody up.”
Bonderman is 1-2 with a 5.00 ERA in five career starts at Fenway, but he has only pitched there twice since 2004 — a start each in 2006 and ’08. Of greater concern for the Tigers would be Bonderman’s recent struggles: He’s 2-2 with a 7.29 ERA over his last six starts, allowing 46 hits over 33 1/3 innings and giving up seven home runs.

Bonderman’s road numbers have been bad for most of the year, but all four of his July starts came at home, and he went 1-1 with a 7.77 ERA in those.

It isn’t an easy decision either way. One philosophy would suggest saving one of your front-line starters for the White Sox, especially in a series that starts with a day-night doubleheader. A Verlander start Tuesday sets you up to conserve your bullpen for the nightcap. On the other hand, the way the Tigers have struggled lately and struggled on the road all year, there’s a case to be made to give the team any chance it can to win this weekend.

Roster decisions imminent

By this time Wednesday, the Tigers’ 25-man roster should be known. Manager Jim Leyland said Monday afternoon that roster moves Tuesday to whittle the roster down to about 26, including a decision on the final position player and the backup catcher.

“By this time tomorrow, we’ll be down to probably one guy [over the limit],” Leyland said. “I think the picture will be almost totally clear for everybody by tomorrow.”

The one decision that will be left will be in the rotation. That, Leyland said, should be decided Wednesday, or Thursday at the latest. Dontrelle Willis and Jeremy Bonderman both start Tuesday — Willis against the Orioles in Sarasota, Bonderman in a minor league game. Nate Robertson is scheduled to start Thursday against the Braves. You can read into that, I suppose, what that means for Robertson’s chances.

Leyland said Sunday he has in his mind what his roster would be, but that it wouldn’t necessarily be the final roster. Dave Dombrowski has the final say on that. So what follows now is a discussion with Dombrowski, Leyland, the coaching staff and other members of the front office on the baseball side.

The final roster spot is essentially down to Don Kelly or Clete Thomas. The backup catching decision essentially comes down to whether the Tigers want Alex Avila catching a couple times a week in Detroit or every day in Toledo for development’s sake, which would most likely put Robinzon Diaz on the team. The fact that roster decisions are coming Tuesday seemingly indicates the Tigers don’t expect to grab another backup catcher on the waiver wire or in a trade.

Leyland wants Bonderman to throw more splits

Yes, you’ve probably heard this before, but this time Jim Leyland has basically told Jeremy Bonderman that he needs the splitter as a third pitch if he’s going to be an effective pitcher.

“I talked to Bondo last night,” Leyland said Saturday morning. “With the equipment he has right now. I think he needs to become a three-pitch pitcher. He can’t pitch like he did before, throwing 95, 94 [mph]. He needs to use the three pitches to be effective. I think he can do that.”

That makes a difference how? Consider Bonderman’s comments after his first outing of the spring against the Blue Jays:

“I’ve got to throw it,” Bonderman said on March 3. “If I want to be any good,
I’ve got to take risks. I’m not going to go out there and just use what
I know works all the time. To be successful and have a full year, I
want that other pitch. If someone beats me out for the fifth spot,
fourth spot, whatever it is, then good for them.”

Now here are his comments four days later, after he was knocked out in the second inning:

“I don’t have a job,” Bonderman said. “Shoot, there’s five guys fighting for two jobs, maybe six guys. I don’t know exactly, but there’s enough guys fighting for them. [There's] nothing in stone that it’s my spot. Until [Leyland] comes up to me and says, ‘It’s your job,’ I don’t think I have a job. Just because you’re under contract doesn’t mean anything. I haven’t played in two years. I just need to get more consistent and get ahead in the count.”

Now, if Bonderman is feeling like he has to get ahead in counts and fight for a job, how much is he going to focus on working on a third pitch?

That’s where Leyland’s remarks make a difference. Ideally, they’re reassurance.

“I think guys are trying what they think is their best shot to make the team,” Leyland said Saturday morning.

Other items of interest from Saturday:

  • If Ramon Santiago looked a little faster running out his triple on Saturday, there’s a reason. He spent a good amount of time in the offseason doing workouts designed to help his quickness, including instruction from a former Cuban track and field coach now living in the Dominican. He also has worked with new coach Tom Brookens on how to hit the bases on the inside and get around quicker. He thinks he can steal some bases if the team asks him, but more important, he feels he can go from first to third on more hits to set up easy RBI chances.
  • Leyland reiterated what he has said about young lefty Daniel Schlereth so far: Good stuff, but a little inconsistent. Then he added this: A person he respects from another organization said he felt Schlereth had the best left-hander he saw all year in 2009. Wouldn’t say who it was.
  • Robbie Weinhardt is still in camp, albeit a long shot by Leyland’s admission to make the roster. Still, Leyland believes he isn’t far off. “He’s a good breaking ball from being a Major League pitcher right now,” Leyland said. “He has a true big-time sinker, but he needs to do more with his breaking ball.”
  • Today was a quick day back at work after being off Thursday and Friday. I’ll be off again Sunday. Always fun to get a break hanging out and watching March Madness. It’s one of those few sporting events where you can talk about a banker, an IT guy and a garbageman walking into a sports bar and not have it be the start of a joke.

Porcello to start home opener, Scherzer April 7

The pitching rotation still hasn’t been filled out, but at least we know when the guys who are set will start. Jim Leyland announced this morning that Rick Porcello will start the home opener when the Tigers host the Indians on Friday, April 9. Max Scherzer will start the second game of the season against the Royals on Wednesday, April 7, after Justin Verlander starts Opening Day on April 5.

That leaves two openings that will depend on who’s pitching. One would figure that if Jeremy Bonderman gets a spot, he would appear to be more likely to start the series finale at Kansas City April 8. Bonderman would logically fit into the series finale at Kansas City April 8, but he still has a three-game suspension looming over him from his pitch that hit Minnesota’s Delmon Young in the final week of last season. Bonderman immediately appealed the suspension, and I haven’t heard anything yet about a hearing. Unless it’s reduced, he can’t pitch at all during the KC series, which would put someone else in line to pitch that game.

You could say it’s the first major assignment for the 21-year-old Porcello, but starting the tiebreaker game against Minnesota last October was pretty big. Leyland said he wanted Scherzer’s first start as a Tiger to be on the road rather than in the added energy of a home atmosphere.

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