Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 1/25/13
Mlb_indians_at_2209
DETROIT Tigers manager Jim Leyland is going to talk about his rookie closer, Bruce Rondon, and his need to turn the page so often in the months ahead that Leyland will either lead to a revival in reading or of an old Bob Seger song. You remember Turn the Page by Ann Arbors Rockin Robert Seger, right? Well, anyway, Rondon, 22, is getting a shot at replacing Jose Valverde, who collapsed in the 2012 playoffs after saving 110 games over three seasons with Detroit. Im going to spend a lot of time with him, Leyland said. He dont know that yet. I have to find out if he is he callused enough to do this or to turn the page. Turning the page after a blown save was something Valverde, who has 277 career saves and remains unsigned on the free agent market, did exceedingly well until the very end. He has been a very good but not great closer, saving 83 percent of the games entered in save situations. I never once saw Valverde floored about losing a save after a game until 2012, and he sailed into the next opportunity as if nothing had happened. I asked Rondon, a converted catcher from Venezuela, about rebounding from a blown save Thursday at Comerica Park during the clubs winter caravan. You learn from the good and the bad, Rondon said through interpreter Aileen Villarreal of the teams public relations staff. You just turn the page and keep going. Translated to Spanish, the goal after failure is to pasar de pagina.' It turns out Valverde is the pitcher Rondon most admirers. Papa Grande mentored Rondon and other Tigers Latin minor leaguers during spring trainings. Jose Valverde led by example and with advice, Rondon said. He told me always to focus, always have a plan. There is a certainty that Rondon displays in conversation. He was comfortable, direct and quick to smile. He seems to have maturity, and that will help. And I think that the guile a catcher must have to study and call a good game is something that will benefit Rondon in this high-pressure role. Rondons plan while playing for Navegantes del Magallanes in the Venezuelan Winter League is to improve his quality slider and so-so changeup in order to keep hitters off-balance with a fastball that he said topped out at 104 mph in the minors. Im doing a combination of both practicing things and competing, said Rondon. In other words, he wants to win the game but also needs to refine his off-speed stuff. Rondon is 4-1 with a 4.41 ERA and nine saves in 10 opportunities for Magallanes. He has struck out 19 with just six walks in 16 13 innings, showing improved command of the strike zone. The crowds are a little bit crazier there, Rondon said. That kind of crazy environment helps you to prepare for this job. In 2012, Rondon was a combined 2-1 with a 1.53 ERA, 29 saves, 66 strikeouts, 26 walks and 53 innings pitched for Single-A Lakeland (22 games), Double-A Erie (21 games) and Triple-A Toledo (nine games). And so Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski listened to his scouts, watched with his own eyes, and decided to give Rondon a chance to close. Dombrowski said Rondon would have been on the 2012 post-season roster had he known Valverde would lose his touch. That made me very happy, Rondon said. I didnt expect the opportunity, and thank the team and Dave for the opportunity. First and foremost, I want to prepare physically and mentally to get ready for the closer role. He is listed at 6-foot-3 and 265 pounds, but his size is better-proportioned than Valverdes girth. And hes quite an athlete. When I asked what his other interests are, Rondon said, Basketball is a passion, but I dont do it anymore because of baseball. Rondon looks like a power forward, but said he played guard. Can he dunk? Si, he said with a smile. Can he shoot three-pointers? Si, he said with an even bigger smile. He is no doubt the player conjuring up the most interest headed into spring training. I know he throws gas, said Tigers ace Justin Verlander. I want to compare him to (Joel) Zumaya. Im one of the few on the club who saw him throwing 103 (mph) when we came up together. Leyland is more interested in seeing how Rondon responds when the stadiums get three tiers and the Yankees show up in a regular season game. Ill give him an opportunity, Leyland said. Hopefully, hell save one, look good, and save a couple more. Ill have patience, and hell have to learn. Well throw him to the fire. To be the finished product, he is going to have to save some and blow some, and get over it. Rondon must learn, in any language, to pasar de pagina.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

DeMar DeRozan: It will be ‘pretty tough’ for me to leave Raptors

Super Bowl referee says Cotchery play could have been a catch

The NBA is one step closer to putting ads on jerseys

Archie Manning defends Cam Newton over press conference

Dwight Howard: ‘I have not asked the Rockets to trade me’

Nazem Kadri fined $5,000 for throat-slashing gesture

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Hassan Whiteside suspended one game for elbowing Boban Marjanovic

Hornets’ Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has torn labrum

Report: Antonio Tarver suspended six months, fined $50,000 for positive test

Texans owner wants team to draft a top quarterback

Subban undergoes larynx surgery, out at least eight weeks

Report: Raiders staying in Oakland for 2016 season

Chris Harris: Von Miller should get paid more than JJ Watt

4 likeliest Dwight Howard trade scenarios

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Penn State the latest to offer generic football jerseys for sale

Gary Bettman praises the NHL’s new website and app (which are currently awful)

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

NBA to weigh adding advertisements to jerseys

ESPN, Stephen A. Smith and Little League International sued by parents of Jackie Robinson West

Kobe Bryant shoots down notion he wants All-Star MVP record

Justin Tuck will sign one-day contract to retire with Giants

Ronda Rousey returns to training

Von Miller likely to get franchise tag from Broncos

Barry J. Sanders transferring to Oklahoma State

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker