LAKELAND, Fla. — Two of the Tigers still on the bubble had a good showing Tuesday against the Atlanta Braves.
Rookie reliever Bruce Rondon pitched the sixth inning with the Tigers trailing, 2-1.
Rondon got Justin Upton to strike out swinging, Freddie Freeman to fly out to left field and then struck out B.J. Upton looking for a perfect inning.
“I think that’s probably the best he’s thrown this spring,” Tiger manager Jim Leyland said. “He was aggressive, he was in the strike zone consistently, he mixed his pitches well. He threw two or three pitches by design that we wanted to see.”
Leyland said Rondon did not seem more excited about Tuesday’s outing than any other, despite his success.
“Whether he’s done good, bad or mediocre, he seems the same all the time,” Leyland said. “That’s a good thing, I think.”
Rondon is also scheduled to pitch in Wednesday’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Don Kelly went 4-for-4 with a single, two doubles, a home run and a walk, lifting his average to .304. With the home run, Kelly tied Miguel Cabrera and Matt Tuiasosopo for the team lead in home runs.
“He’s short to the ball,” Leyland said. “He had a pretty good day.”
Some veteran players have an option in their contract which requires the team to let them know by Tuesday if they’ve made the team or they can opt out. Kelly said his situation is a little different.
“It’s not like it’s a set date for an opt-out but if things don’t work out here, (Tigers president and GM Dave Dombrowski) would try to find me another job at the big league level,” Kelly said. “If that wouldn’t come about, then we’d have to look at going to Toledo, which I definitely would go down there if I had to.”
Other roster moves
The Tigers had plenty of moves on Tuesday as they cut their roster to 29.
First they optioned right-hander Luke Putkonen, left-hander Jose Alvarez and catcher Brad Davis to Triple-A Toledo. They also sent non-roster invitee Kevin Russo to minor league camp before the game and Tuesday’s starter Shawn Hill to minor league camp after he pitched five innings.
“I think he’s a guy that’s going to go down and pitch multiple innings and be prepared for us if we need him, when we need him and we’ll probably need him,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of Putkonen.
Leyland said he also liked Alvarez, who will start for the Mud Hens.
“He’s got a good feel for pitching,” Leyland said. “He needs to do a little bit more with his breaking ball, as does (Kyle) Lobstein, who we’re thrilled to have with our organization for good now. They both need to do that a little bit better.”
Leyland also had praise for Hill, who is also going to start at Toledo, along with Casey Crosby and Alvarez.
“If he can do what he’s shown me this spring and Alvarez can do what he’s shown me this spring, maybe we do have a little more depth than what we thought,” Leyland said. “Hill didn’t panic, he pitched his game. Against a really good-hitting Braves team and a good-hitting Cardinals team, they mis-hit some balls off him.” Garcia on DL
Outfielder Avisail Garcia’s bid to make the Tigers out of spring training ended Tuesday.
Garcia, who had not played since March 16 after bruising his right heel, was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 22.
This spring, Garcia was hitting .206 with one home run and three RBI in 17 games.
“I would say that it would be fair to say the timing of the injury probably put a little bit of a damper on him as far as breaking with the club,” Leyland said a couple of days ago. Inge makes Pirates, heads to DL
Brandon Inge, the longtime former Tiger, appears to have made the Pittsburgh Pirates.
According to the Pirates’ web site, Inge is expected to start the season on the disabled list as he recovers from a right shoulder injury. Inge was hit by a pitch on the shoulder March 14, the same shoulder that Tigers team orthopedist Dr. Stephen Lemos repaired last September.
Inge hit just .162 in 13 games while playing third and first base for the Pirates this spring.
“Pittsburgh’s been very good to me,” Inge said Monday. “I’m very, very thrilled with the opportunity that they’ve given me this year, this spring.”