Detroit Tigers Should Move On From Bruce Rondon

Sep 1, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Bruce Rondon (43) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals in the ninth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Detroit won the game 6-5. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 1, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Bruce Rondon (43) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals in the ninth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Detroit won the game 6-5. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports /

Detroit Tigers and general sports fans know that professional franchises have an easy time overlooking specific issues a player may carry with them as long as it helps their team win or sell merchandise.

Detroit Tigers management understands this. If a player is talented enough they will play somewhere, regardless of what kind of off-field problems they have or how big of a “clubhouse cancer” they may be. In Major League Baseball if you can throw the ball 100MPH, it’s almost impossible to go without a job no matter what the circumstance.

The regular season season is upon us, and that means Opening Day. Opening Day for every baseball fanatic is one of the best days of the year, as no matter what the media predicts or how low your favorite team’s payroll might be, every team thinks it could be their year to play in the World Series.

Tonight is no different, as the Detroit Tigers kick off their 115th season in the American League as they face off against the historic Miami Marlins franchise at the presumably half-empty Marlins Park at 7:10PM EST.

On Friday afternoon, the Tigers return home to Detroit from the Florida sunshine where they have spent a majority of the past two months with Spring Training in Lakeland and the games 1 & 2 of 162 kicking off a few hours south in Dade County.

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However, those paying attention to the bullpen will notice one reliever will not be making an appearance for the Opening Day festivities in either Miami and Detroit. Although the Tigers bullpen is already a concern to begin the season, former top prospect and more recent man-baby Bruce Rondon will be heading to his home away from home in Toledo where he will begin the season in Triple-A with the Mudhens once again.

The ongoing situation with Rondon has been going on since former General Manager Dave Dombrowski began to fall in love with the triple-digit flamethrower in 2012. Drafted in 2007, Rondon has been with the Tigers since he was just 16 years old. Perhaps Dembrowski’s infatuation with Rondon stemmed from the success the team had in 2006 with Reliever Joel Zumaya. Zumaya came out of nowhere as a rookie and shut down opposing hitters with a fastball that topped out at almost 105MPH. Unfortunately for Zumaya and the Tigers organization, a tragic accident picking up boxes and excessive playing of Guitar Hero forced him into early retirement.

This time instead of a guy who just likes video games too much, the Tigers have themselves a pampered wannabe superstar with the inability to locate pitches. But since he can throw the ball in the high 90’s with ease, even after coming off Tommy John Surgery in 2014, Rondon continues to find himself employed by the Detroit Tigers.

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Before the surgery, Rondon was all but given the closers job before the 2013 season without having ever thrown a pitch in the majors. His competition for the job was Phil Coke and Octavio Dotel, with Joaquin Benoit as insurance but primarily an 8th inning set up man. Rondon managed to not only lose out on the closers job to a crew of misfits, but he didnt even make the Opening Day roster. Darin Downs and Brayan Villarreal made the team over Rondon, neither of which has pitched a single MLB inning since that season.

In 2015 Rondon somehow sunk to a new low with the organization. Beginning the year on the disabled list, he ended the year at home in Venezuela, but not because of an injury. Rondon was straight up sent home with two weeks remaining in the regular season because of a poor “effort level”, which included him directly disobeying the Tigers coaching staff. Although the Tigers were out of contention by that point, it could have been good experience for the young reliever, but Rondon chose to give up.

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In almost every other circumstance, a player who quits on his teammates is either released or traded. Organizations will tolerate the most insane off the field behavior as long as an effort is given on the field. In this case however, Rondon has defied the odds and has been given another opportunity in 2016. Sadly he’ll be called up again soon this season, and given another shot he doesn’t deserve. Hopefully he matures and figures it out, or else he’s going to be extremely salty living in Toledo until his contract expires in 2020.