April 5, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; A general view of a flyover during the playing of the national anthem before the opening day game between the Detroit Tigers and the Boston Red Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, former Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Jeremy Bonderman is hoping to make a return to baseball. Olney’s column is tabbed as an “Insider” piece, so you’ll need a subscription to read the whole thing, but here’s what he has to say about Bonderman above the pay wall:
"Bonderman, who just turned 30, started his workouts long before he had Tommy John surgery in April 2012. He explained over the phone Sunday that most weeks, he’s training six days out of seven, and he has cut his weight from 245 to about 210 pounds, or what he weighed as he came out of high school."
Bonderman is quoted in the piece as saying he’s simply looking for a minor league deal with an invite to major league spring training, so he would present only a small risk to a team hoping the once-promising pitcher could make a career comeback (similar, perhaps, to Joel Zumaya).
Bonderman hasn’t pitched in the big leagues at all since 2010, and hadn’t pitched with sort of effectiveness since 2007, so the odds would appear to be long on him resurrecting his career.
His fastball-slider combination was devastating to hitters, but he very clearly needed to develop a quality third in order to morph into a front-line starter. He never could quite get the feel for a changeup (something he tinkered with every spring), and many predicted that an eventual move to the bullpen was inevitable. Now it appears that a career in the bullpen is the best that he could hope for.
I have no doubt that the Jeremy Bonderman of 2006 would have been an effective relief pitcher, but I have strong doubts that he could regain the 3-4 mph that his fastball had lost between 2006 and 2010, and I wouldn’t have faith that his surgically repaired arm could handle a heavy barrage of sliders.
The Tigers wouldn’t be able to count on Bonderman helping out the club if they signed him to a minor league deal, but, if he throws for them and shows signs of revitalization, there wouldn’t be much harm in inviting him to spring training to get a closer look.