Tigers reliever Bruce Rondon traveled to Kissimmee, Fla., with the team on Wednesday with the hopes he'd pitch in back-to-back games, a key marker along the road to his return to the major league roster in time for Opening Day. But after waking up with a sore shoulder that didn't improve when he arrived at the park, Rondon was scratched from his appearance against the Astros and instead returned to Lakeland for treatment.
Rondon is listed as day-to-day, but the late-spring injury, coupled with words last week from manager Brad Ausmus about the possibility Rondon would open the season in the minors, leaves the fireball righthander's spot in the bullpen in doubt.
"If he can't pitch, obviously it's a lot tougher to be on the team," Ausmus told media after the game. "In that sense it's a big concern." (Via Dana Wakiji video/Fox Sports Detroit)
Ausmus said he's taking a wait-and-see approach, however, before making any decisions regarding the bullpen. Ausmus added that he didn't know if that would open a spot for a righty or lefty in the bullpen. There has been discussion about taking three left-handers north to Detroit rather than two. Veteran Tom Gorzelanny is expected to be one of them, with some debate whether Ian Krol or Kyle Ryan has the edge for the second lefty in the pen.
Right-handers thought to be a lock include closer Joe Nathan, setupman Joakim Soria, Al Alburquerque and Joba Chamberlain. Angel Nesbitt is another young righthander who the Tigers may choose to bring north if Rondon is not able to begin the year on the major league roster.
- Although designed hitter Victor Martinez continues to feel a bit sore, he was not pulled early in the game due to injury concerns. Ausmus said Martinez saw enough pitches and got his work in. Martinez went 2-for-3 with a strikeout. Ausmus thought he ran well for the most part. "I was a little concerned (when Martinez went first to second), I felt like he might have been ginger on it. But by the time he got to third and looked normal again and came off the field normal. I think it's just one of those things he doesn't always feel great but he at other times it's fine."