Two weeks into spring camp and the Tigers are already stressing over Bruce Rondon's rough debut.
Jim Leyland sat at his desk after Sunday's game against the Braves, noshing on a piece of chicken, his words calm but painfully concise as he talked about his supposed new closer's latest smash-up in a 6-1 loss to the Braves at Champion Stadium.
"I think it's too early to get excited by anything," Leyland said, offering his 22-year-old reliever a back-pat before confronting the ugly stuff. "Right now, he's throwing pretty hard, and they're hitting it pretty hard."
Rondon pitched one inning Sunday and was about as messy as he had been in three previous Grapefruit League games. His fifth-inning shift: home run, ground-out, walk, RBI double, ground-out, and strikeout on a 3-2 pitch.
These are Rondon's gory numbers in four appearances spanning 3-2/3 innings: three runs, five hits, five walks, six strikeouts. His ERA is 7.36. A right-hander's ability to change direction and pitch reliably as a ninth-inning option in Detroit would appear today to be more of a dream than an expectation.
Leyland is walking a tightrope four weeks before the Tigers open their regular season at Minnesota. He has thoughts and emotions in abundance as he watches the Tigers' gamble on Rondon begin to blow up in a team's face.
But he cannot talk in any detailed way about an issue that probably has him boiling: The decision by his boss, Dave Dombrowski, to all but hand Rondon a closer's promotion when Rondon has not played a day of big-league baseball.
Asked if Rondon might be dealing with early-camp anxiety, Leyland shook his head.
From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130304/SPORTS0104/303040332#ixzz2MaWUWVrR
Bruce Rondon gets hit hard in Tigers' loss to Braves
Detroit News | Mar 4