The Tigers opened the Grapefruit League schedule today in Dunedin against the Toronto Blue Jays and right hander Jeremy Bonderman took the ball for Detroit. As anyone who has followed the career of Bonderman knows, first inning difficulties are nothing new for him, and today was no exception, at least for the first two batters.
Bonderman began by missing with his first two pitches before allowing a lead-off single to Jays’ 3B Jose Bautista. Aaron Hill was next and he watched four pitches miss the zone and took his walk. With two on and none out, it looked bad for Bonderman and the Tigers.
The heart of Toronto’s order couldn’t solve Bonderman today however, as he fanned both Adam Lind and Vernon Wells before getting Lyle Overbay to ground out to end the threat. Bonderman worked a perfect second inning which included his third strikeout of the day.
Once Bonderman was finished, Nate Robertson came on the start the third inning. Robertson, like Bonderman is trying to re-establish him self as a viable rotation option. He worked a scoreless third, but wasn’t able to fool the Jays in the fourth.
Wells began the trouble for Robertson in the fourth with a single and Overbay walked to put two on with no outs. Former Royal John Buck then doubled home a run and Jeremy Reed followed with an RBI single to tie the score. Robertson then loaded the bases by issuing his third walk of the afternoon before getting Travis Snider with a strikeout. With that, Robertson was lifted for right hander Ryan Perry, who induced an inning-ending double play.
The final lines for the two rotation hopefuls:
Bonderman 2 IP 1 H 0 R 1 BB 3 K
Robertson 1.1 IP 3 H 2 R 3 BB 2 K
Obviously, this is not the kind of outing that makes you have much confidence in the southpaw. In an open competition for the final two spots in the rotation, you have to assume that if healthy (and it appears he is), Bonderman would be penciled in as the number four.
What you would like is for Robertson, Armando Galarraga, and Dontrelle Willis to all pitch well enough this Spring to make at least one of them somehow valuable to this or another club. It’s only the first outing of the Spring, but Robertson cannot afford bad outings like this one if he plans to win a job, any job, on this staff. A full six of the 10 batters he faced reached base today, three via the walk. It will be interesting to see how Galarraga and Willis respond to the opportunity in front of them.