SURPRISE! LOOK WHO’S STILL HERE!

By:  Kurt Snyder

I mentioned in my last blog one of my Dad’s favorite quotes when referring to young pitchers with potential. “Never give up on a good arm.”

Well, at the end of last season, many fans, players and key members of the Tiger organization, were certainly very close to writing off Bruce Rondon.

All over social media in Detroit, fans wanted blood after Rondon was sent home for what was referred to, at the time, as a lack of effort. Bruce Rondon clearly had maturity issues. Tommy John had slowed his career and even though so many pitchers have been able to come back and be successful, there is hard work involved.

Who wondered if Bruce had it in him?  Well, he did come back, but he struggled in the spring. He was still throwing hard but still struggled. Many forecasted the end was near and that he would never get his head straightened around enough to harness his tremendous arm and immense talent.

It would have been very easy for the Tigers to let Rondon go after last season. And who could have blamed them. Well, I for one, remembering what my dad always said, knew that the arm that Rondon possessed was not something to easily cast aside and claim worthless. He was still young, still very talented and still very much worth more time.

So the Tigers retained him, gave him no guarantees, just asked him to work; and he has. It has been a slow road for Rondon this season. But slowly but surely he has found himself in more high-leverage situations late in games. He is indeed maturing. And he is not just throwing anymore. He is pitching. And pitching with purpose. He is settling in to a late inning role that may well mean that finally, he may  still someday challenge for a closer’s role with the Tigers, or certainly a continued, consistent late inning role.

He has taken a very big step in his development in 2016. The Tigers did not give up on him. Because this is what has been the most noticeable.  He seems to care now. He didn’t seem to care last season. When he does well and gets a big out to end an inning, he’s pretty cranked up, pretty mentally charged when he leaves the mound.

That is a tremendous sign. But it has been noticeable on the other side of the coin has well. When he doesn’t do well or he struggles getting through an inning, he is visibly upset with himself. No more hanging of the head.

It’s what you ask most of a late reliever; aggressiveness, emotion and the desire to dominate. Rondon is getting there, slowly but surely, but getting there; a complete about-face from the unfortunate kick to the curb a year ago.   He is still a very valuable commodity,  and more importantly, he finally appears to see the value he can now provide.

6 thoughts on “SURPRISE! LOOK WHO’S STILL HERE!

  1. By the time he becomes what the Tigers have been trying to develop, and after the Tigers have suffered through a multitude of losses by doing so, he will become a high dollar free agent. The Tigers have paid a steep price for drooling over that fastball. Someone else will enjoy the benefits of that suffering way too soon.

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  2. With Rondon and Jimenez knocking on the door for closer duties, along with Greene who I guess is tired after so much work, could it be the case they let K-Rod go. I know he has been a mentor for those younger guys, but I also guess the Tigers have to unload some contracts, meaning eating some of Pelfreys and/or Sanchezs’, just to start with.

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  3. At this point, I think Rondon is the most reliable arm out of the bullpen…OK, maybe Alex Wilson. Which is why I was very surprised to see him pitch when the Tigers had a big lead on Friday, with a Zimmerman start looming on Saturday. Too bad he wasn’t on hand instead of Greene last night.

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    • Of course you a right, but that is only assuming that sweeping this season-on-the-line series should take priority over rebuilding Greene’s confidence. After all, “we gotta get Greenie going.”

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  4. Tough love seemed to kickstart an attitude change & improved work ethic for Rondon. I applaud the organization for employing it, & Bruce for taking it to heart. They should apply the concept of “Aggressiveness, emotion, & the desire to dominate” beyond the mound. Perhaps the team wouldn’t appear lifeless & in need of resuscitation as often as it does.

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