KISSIMMEE, Fla. — The Tigers already had Justin Verlander to worry about and now there’s Bruce Rondon with a new issue.
Rondon returned Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates after missing three days with a sore neck from sleeping funny.
Against the Pirates, Rondon struck out the side, all swinging.
The Tigers were looking forward to seeing if Rondon could pitch on back-to-back days, a requirement for him to be in the bullpen heading to Detroit after the final spring game Saturday.
"He complained of a sore shoulder so we held him out," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "He said he felt something in the shoulder when he got up but he thought when he got here and started throwing he’d be fine. But that wasn’t the case."
Ausmus is often loath to label anything of major concern, but this could be that thing.
"If he can’t pitch, obviously it’s a lot tougher to be on the team," Ausmus said. "In that sense, it’s a big concern."
In previous weeks, Ausmus had tossed around the idea of taking three left-handers with them considering some of the teams they’ll face in April have a lot of lefties in the lineup.
Despite the Rondon situation, that has not been decided.
"Let’s wait and see what Rondon’s status is tomorrow," Ausmus said. "Obviously if he isn’t on the team, that opens up a spot. I don’t know if it’s necessarily a lefty or a righty but it opens up a spot."
Ausmus said they did not believe there was a correlation between the neck issue and the current shoulder problem.
"He left here to go get treatment," Ausmus said. "It’s just soreness in the front of his shoulder. We don’t think it’s something he needs an MRI for.
"Unless Rondon can bounce back quickly from this latest setback and pitch in back-to-back games Friday and Saturday, there will be an opening in the bullpen."
Still in the running for bullpen jobs are Kyle Ryan, who started Wednesday, Ian Krol, Blaine Hardy and Angel Nesbitt, who starts Thursday.
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