The Tigers have finally reported to Lakeland and have begun Spring Training, and it’s about time. Feels like forever ago they melted our hearts with a completely disappointing World Series performance, but hopefully that is behind them.
This year’s team is better mostly without any major moves, gone are Ryan Rayburn, Delmon Young and Jose Valverde, and the only free agent addition of note is Torii Hunter. The biggest move for the team is the return of Victor Martinez and the addition in the bullpen of rookie Bruce Rondon.
First on Martinez, he was seen in Lakeland in catchers gear behind the plate and throwing down to second base. This may be a good sign for the Tigers because it means Martinez can play behind the plate so if Leyland wants to give someone a day off in the field Detroit won’t have to take his bat out of the lineup.
As for Rondon, Buster Olney had a write-up on ESPN dedicated to him. For those of you without the “Insider,” he compares Rondon to a younger Livan Hernandez; a bigger guy who has a fluid and smooth delivery.
Olney also talked with Alex Avila after a bullpen session with Rondon and this is what Avila had to say according to Olney:
His arm angle is about three-quarters, rather than over the top, which means the right-hander is probably going to be very daunting for right-handed hitters. Some guys who throw really hard launch themselves at the hitters, like Joel Zumaya — but Rondon has a nice and easy delivery, Avila said, with the ball hidden behind him. This means the hitters will see nothing but this very relaxed Sunday-stroll-in-the-park motion — until the ball is suddenly bearing down on them like a charging buffalo. The motion is deceptive, and a little unnerving.
And the best thing that Avila sees, Rondon is going to be throwing strikes. Valverde had a tendency to nibble the strike zone and walk more batters than he should have. Rondon will not have that problem when given the opportunity.
Jim Leyland and Dave Dombrowski will not commit to Rondon as the closer in 2013, but according to Avila “This is something he wants.”