For the Tigers bullpen, the future begins on Tuesday.
Bruce Rondon isn’t going to begin his career as the closer, but he’s in Detroit and ready to face big-league hitters. The flame-throwing reliever was called up when Octavio Dotel went on the disabled list with a sore elbow.
Rondon had pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings for Triple-A Toledo, allowing five hits and two walks while striking out nine. That wasn’t enough to get back the closer’s role that he lost in spring training, but it earned him a shot when Dotel went down.
“He’s done very well in Toledo, but it wasn’t a significant period of time,” Jim Leyland said. “We’re going to take a look at him and see how things look.”
Rondon has hit 103 mph on some radar guns, but for the time being, Leyland plans to use him as a middle reliever.
“If I can do it, I want to work him in slowly,” he said. “I’m thinking that he would pitch in the sixth or seventh innings at first, just to get his feet wet. After that, we’ll see how things go.”
Dotel will be rested for a few days, and then start throwing on flat ground before building up to a full bullpen session and a minor-league rebab stint, but the Tigers haven’t put a timetable on his recovery.
PORCELLO GETTING ANOTHER BREAK: Rick Porcello allowed nine first-inning runs Saturday after being skipped for one start, but that doesn’t change Leyland’s plan to do the same thing in two weeks.
The Tigers are scheduled to play every day between Tuesday and May 5, but they have both the 6th and the 9th off, which means juggling the rotation.
“It’s tough for any starter to stay sharp when we skip them, but with two days off in the same week, we don’t have much of a choice,” Leyland said. “I don’t like doing it to him again, but with Verlander, Scherzer, Fister and Sanchez, Rick’s the one who is going to have to sit out.”
Leyland didn’t think the layoff was a huge factor in Porcello’s nightmarish outing in Anaheim.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone gotten nicked up like that,” he said. “If he gets the last guy out, he would have given up five outs without any of it being his fault — he was making great pitches that they just hit in the perfect spots. He hung a breaking ball to the last guy, and then it was nine runs. That one was on him.”
BAD NEWS FROM GERMANY: One of Victor Martinez’s great passions is the Barcelona soccer team, so Detroit’s DH was in agony as he watched Bayern Munich rout Barca 4-0 in a European Champions League game on FOX Soccer Channel on Tuesday.
“How do you not call that?” Martinez yelled in despair after the referee missed an obvious foul in the buildup to Munich’s third goal.
BULLPEN REPORT: Drew Smyly is still unavailable after his 5 2-3 inning relief stint on Saturday, and Leyland said that he would prefer to give Phil Coke one more day of rest. Coke, who would be available in an emergency, threw 33 pitches in Sunday’s 13-inning loss to the Angels.