Found March 23, 2013 on Fox Sports Detroit:
LAKELAND, Fla. Bruce Rondon remains a work in progress, as is the Tigers' bullpen. In Saturday's game against the New York Yankees, Rondon came on in the eighth inning with a 9-4 lead. After getting a pop-out, Rondon gave up a single to Juan Rivera and a two-run home run to Ben Francisco. Jayson Nix doubled and Rondon's wild pitch allowed him to take third. But Rondon got Chris Stewart to ground out and then struck out Melky Mesa to end the threat. As has happened before, the Yankees were hitting Rondon's electric fastball, not his other pitches. No doubt a visit from pitching coach Jeff Jones helped to get Rondon back on track. "He told me to calm down and to start off with the breaking ball," Rondon said through an interpreter after the game. "They were hitting my fastball so I was trying to mix in my other pitches, too." The thing is, Rondon's breaking pitches are not always perfect, just what you'd expect from a 22-year-old rookie whose spring ERA is now 5.06. "I think it's been inconsistent," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "There's been some outings where he's actually had a good breaking ball, and some outings where the breaking ball was OK, but it wasn't tempting enough." With a national writer in town, naturally the closer topic came up. "I'm always more comfortable when I have a sure-fire closer," Leyland responded. However, just because Leyland is more comfortable with one closer doesn't mean he's going to name one right away. Two days ago, Leyland told Detroit News beat writer Tom Gage that he liked his article, "If I Were Jim Leyland." In the column, Gage suggested that the Tigers should take rookie Bruce Rondon with them when they break camp without formally announcing him as the closer. Instead, just say that he's made the team and he'll be one of the people closing games. Friday in Viera, Leyland still seemed to be thinking that way. "We know a lot of names in that bullpen but we don't know how it's going to play out exactly," Leyland said. "That normally goes back to the question you guys have been asking all spring. You have a per se closer closer, then you move backwards. It's different than the situation we're in right now because we're not just sure yet." The best guess is that Rondon will get a chance to close the first week, if the Tigers have that opportunity. But he may not be the only one. The Minnesota Twins are the Tigers' first opponent. They have two of the top left-handed hitters in Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. So Leyland could opt to send out lefty Phil Coke to close a game if those two were coming to bat, just as he used Coke against the New York Yankees. Now, if Rondon looks pretty good in his first two opportunities to close a game, perhaps then he would slide into that role regularly. But it's looking more and more like that decision won't come in spring training. "Are we going to have definite roles or are we gonna pick and choose at times," Leyland said. "That would be something that is still in the mix in our thought process. We gotta figure that out. I think we have plenty of equipment down there, I like what we have down there. I think there's going to be a lot of talent in the bullpen. It's a matter of how you set it up." Leyland is like a chess master when it comes to these things. Any possible scenario that might emerge in the first few weeks of the season has already been pondered by Leyland and his coaching staff. Leyland also indicated that he is leaning one way but is not going to share which way that is just yet. "I think I have a pretty good idea how it might play out, but I can't say that for sure yet," Leyland said. "I don't want to put myself in a situation where I'm (saying) this is this, this is this, this is this. And then two days into the season, it doesn't work out and you change. That doesn't look good. So I'm going to wait until I feel that I have a good answer for you guys and when I do, I'll give it to you."
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Prince Fielder looking slim after Brazilian jiu-jitsu training (Photo)

Detroit Tigers slugger Prince Fielder has been known for his rather rotund figure in the past but it seems these days that Mr. Fielder has seriously trimmed down. Check out the below photo of a slimmed-down Fielder with MMA/Brazilian jiu-jitsu trainer Jon Burkle and former UFC champion Ras Butten: Looking good, Prince...looking good.... (Courtesy of The Outside Corner)

Kelly playing himself back on Tigers roster

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. Decisions are coming soon and it would not be a shock if Don Kelly was a Detroit Tiger once again. Kelly came into Sunday's game against the New York Mets in the bottom of the fifth inning, replacing Prince Fielder at first base. In the Tigers' five-run seventh inning, Kelly did his best Fielder impression at the plate, hitting a two-run home run to...

Smyly continues to make case for 5th starter

VIERA, Fla. -- It's sometimes hard to tell from his laid-back demeanor, but Drew Smyly is a fierce competitor who hates losing. Judging by this spring, Smyly is not going to let the fifth starter's job go to Rick Porcello without a fight. In his previous outing, Smyly had his first truly poor performance of the spring, giving up five runs on seven hits while walking one...

Tuiasosopo pops another home run with Tigers

VIERA, Fla. -- Another start, another home run for Matt Tuiasosopo. In four of his last eight games, Tuiasosopo has hit a home run. But in four of those games, he only got one at-bat, coming in later in the game. On Friday, Tuiasosopo got Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg on a 2-1 count, slamming the ball over the right-center field wall. "That's impressive,...

Tigers rumors: Cardinals, Padres interested in Rick Porcello

Some outlets report that the Detroit Tigers could enter the regular season with Rick Porcello, while others believe a trade is inevitable. Yesterday, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the St. Louis Cardinals are checking out Porcello, while ESPN’s Jim Bowden said the San Diego Padres continue talks with the Tigers for the right-hander. Ever since...

Detroit Tigers Must Resolve Spring Roster Situations Before They Become Bigger Distractions

Rick Porcello has been the subject of endless trade rumors this offseason. One way or another, a resolution had better happen soon. (Keith Allison, Flickr) This winter, there seems to have been no end to the Rick Porcello trade rumor mill. One week, he’s staying with the Detroit Tigers as the team’s fifth starter. The next, he’s getting dealt for a bundle of different minor...

Fister, Tigers handle Mets split squad

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) -- Doug Fister pitched into the fifth inning and Austin Jackson had two extra-base hits for the Detroit Tigers in a 9-4 victory over a New York Mets split squad Sunday. Don Kelly hit a two-run homer off Mets reliever Brandon Lyon in a five-run seventh that gave Detroit a 9-2 lead. Jackson had an RBI triple in the inning to go with his run-scoring double...

Scherzer tweaking pitches

BY DANA WAKIJIFOXSPORTSDETROIT PORT LUCIE, Fla. -- While Anibal Sanchez was pitching at Joker Marchant Stadium on Saturday against the New York Yankees, Max Scherzer got his work in on a back field. Scherzer pitched against the Houston Astros' Single-A affiliate at the same time, allowing no runs on one hit. He walked two and struck out eight. "Pretty good," Scherzer...

Tigers 10, Yankees 6

Miguel Cabrera hit his fourth home run of the spring and the Detroit Tigers beat the New York Yankees 10-6 Saturday on an afternoon when the wind was blowing out. Jhonny Peralta and Kevin Russo also homered for the Tigers. Torii Hunter and Alex Avila each added three hits. Recently signed Ben Francisco homered twice for the Yankees. Anibal Sanchez started for Detroit in his first...

Tigers 9, Mets 4

Doug Fister pitched into the fifth inning and Austin Jackson had two extra-base hits for the Detroit Tigers in a 9-4 victory over a New York Mets split squad Sunday. Don Kelly hit a two-run homer off Mets reliever Brandon Lyon in a five-run seventh that gave Detroit a 9-2 lead. Jackson had an RBI triple in the inning to go with his run-scoring double in the fourth. Fister, fighting...

Tigers return Jeff Kobernus back to the Washington Nationals

According to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports, the Tigers have returned infielder Jeff Kobernus back to the Washington Nationals. Tigers announce they’ve returned Rule V draft pick Jeff Kobernus to the Nationals. — Danny Knobler (@DannyKnoblerCBS) March 23, 2013 Selected in the Rule 5 Draft by the Boston Red Sox from Washington at the end of the Winter Meetings in Nashville. Kobernus...

Hunter robs Youkilis of homer

BY DANA WAKIJI FOXSportsDetroit.com LAKELAND, Fla. -- Poor Kevin Youkilis. The newest New York Yankee probably thought he had a home run to right field but the newest Tiger thought otherwise. Torii Hunter displayed his nine-time Gold Glove skills in the third inning of Saturday's game, timing his leap just right and snagging the ball over the fence and bringing it back. ...
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!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.