Sometimes, no translation is required.
Bruce Rondon's command of English isn't anywhere close to that of his 100-m.p.h.-plus fastball.
Bullpen partner Joaquin Benoit served as his translator Thursday at the start of the Tigers' winter caravan. I asked Benoit to ask Rondon if the 22-year-old prospective closer thought that the most important characteristic of his new responsibilities is the ability to quickly forget.
Rondon didn't say a word after hearing Benoit's relay of my question.
He didn't have to. His eyes widened. He laughed while briskly nodding his head affirmatively.
Nobody knows how good Rondon might be as the top closing option for a team with a World Series-or-failure edict until everyone sees how bad he can be -- and how quickly he responds from those depths. The best closers also are the best amnesiacs.
Rondon has the physical tools of a dominating closer, capable of flashing what assistant general manager Al Avila called Thursday "an easy 100" -- a relatively effortless fastball without physical strain.
Rondon's delivery isn't as "violent" as Joel Zumaya's. Zumaya couldn't stay healthy. Rondon also has a paralyzing slider that -- when under control -- has sent hitters back to the dugout cursing the unfairness of such a repertoire.
But closing is as much mental as mechanical.
Rondon initially was a catcher when the Tigers signed him at 16 in his native Venezuela. Avila said scouts weren't impressed with Rondon's lack of mobility and limited offensive output.
Tigers' Bruce Rondon has arm, needs ability to forget -- quickly
Detroit Free Press | Jan 25