Bruce Rondon’s 2015 season is over, but the hard-throwing reliever isn’t injured and hasn’t hit an innings cap. Rather, the Tigers told reporters, including MLive.com’s Chris Iott, that Rondon has been sent home due to his “effort level.” Said manager Brad Ausmus:
“Bruce Rondon, because of his effort level, has been sent home. Other than saying that [general manager] Al Avila and myself completely agreed on it, there will be no other details or comment.”
As Iott notes, the Tigers apparently feel that while embarrassing in nature, a move of this magnitude is the best way to send a message to Rondon, who struggled in 2015 as he returned from Tommy John surgery, though some teammates feel his struggles are attributable to a lack of work. One anonymous Triple-A teammate told Iott that Rondon’s work ethic “definitely has room for improvement.” Tigers bullpen-mate Alex Wilson offered a more harsh, on-record take when speaking to the Detroit News’ Chris McCosky:
“It’s kind of an unwritten rule, you never quit on your teammates, and when you quit on yourself, you kind of quit on your teammates. From a clubhouse standpoint, it’s probably better to let him go on home and try to figure things out a little bit. Hopefully, he comes back next year with a new mindset and attitude.”
Certainly, this isn’t the manner in which Rondon wanted his season to end. Armed with a triple-digit fastball, the now-24-year-old was tabbed as the heir-apparent to the ninth inning in 2013. He struggled early in his first three appearances but came back strong after a late-June promotion, pitching to a 2.73 ERA with a 29-to-9 K/BB ratio in 26 1/3 innings while setting up for Joaquin Benoit. Rondon, though, suffered a torn UCL in his right elbow the following spring and missed all of the 2014 season.
His return in 2015 was slowed by a case of biceps tendinitis which Iott says took an “inordinate” amount of time to heal. Rondon didn’t throw a pitch at the Triple-A level until May 21, and he struggled both there and in the Majors this season, posting a 7.11 ERA in 12 2/3 Triple-A innings and a 5.81 mark in 31 innings at the big league level. McCosky notes that Rondon’s fastball was sitting in the 93 to 96 mph range in his final few outings this season, but the righty told Ausmus and Avila that he felt fine and had merely cut back on his velocity in an effort to improve his control. The manager and pitching coach Jeff Jones advised against that, per McCosky, but Rondon again sat at 93 mph in his next appearance. McCosky describes Rondon’s late-season demeanor as “uncharacteristically surly,” noting that he refused to speak to the media.
Rondon clearly has plenty of upside; he posted an ERA well below 2.00 across three levels and averaged 11+ strikeouts per nine innings in the minors from 2012-13. Both Baseball America and MLB.com rated him as a Top 100 prospect entering the 2013 campaign. But Rondon has yet to deliver on that promise, and while a serious injury is unequivocally a factor in his lack of development, team decision-makers and teammates clearly feel there’s more at play. While neither Iott or McCosky mentions the possibility that the organization will move on from Rondon this winter, this type of public airing of grievances could conceivably create a rift between team and player.
Rondon will have two-plus years of service time under his belt this offseason but will fall well shy of Super Two distinction. He won’t be arbitration eligible until at least the 2016-17 offseason and is under team control through at least 2019 at this point.
But did he get paid to go home, if he did, not much of a message
I assume that was part of the unanswered followup questions.
Either way, your team announcing that they sent you away due to a lack of effort is a pretty significant message.
If they weren’t still paying him, you have to imagine we would’ve heard Tony Clark yelling about it by now
Personally, I’d be embarrassed. Hopefully he wakes up and appreciates what he has.
Detroit doesn’t have a winter instructional league either again this fall either that have seen as of yet to send him to as punishment/a learning tool many/most teams have set up at their spring training home sites. I have been checking at Joker marchent stadium and it’s calm and still over there, none of the grounds keepers have seen, or heard a peep, other than a couple of straggler’s the team has sent down.
Hard to imagine a team as wealthy as this one is can’t afford an instructional league for a few weeks.
It is a huge, unprecedented embarrassment. The money is superfluous and not worth the fight.
I wouldn’t call this ‘unprecedented’. The Mets did this to Ruben Tejada in either 2013 or 2014 (memory is failing me at the moment).
Its very embarrassing and its likely that this will stick with him throughout his career.
Good. Hopefully it motivates him to work harder
Being that he isn’t even a Super 2, the $ can’t be that much (and not paying him would probably get the Players’ Union all worked up). I’d be much more concerned with the message it sends to every other player/manager/team. If I were another club I’d offer a low-ball trade and see if they bite.
It does not make any sense that the Tigers would do this, then trade him.
Tigers plan MUST be to keep him.
If they had any intent to trade him, they would not have done this. His stock has fallen like a rock in the last 24 hours.
If they wanted to trade him, they could have made up some vague “we are shutting him down due to precautionary reasons” and kept his punishment private and then traded him ASAP in the offseason.
Probably the first interview question for the new manager hire: “How will you handle the ‘Rondon-zoned’?”
I think a trade is very likely. I wouldn’t call it their primary objective, but if Rondon and his agent are going to make a big stink about this, they’re better off sending him away.
This obviously hurts his trade value, but it’s not like it was that high to begin with.
Young, league minimum, under control 100MPH relievers do not go on trees. If healthy, he would without a doubt have HIGH trade value (outside of his poor attitude).
To put in in terms you can relate to, it would be like what the Red Sox did to Cespedes when he did not want to go to RF. The Red Sox gave up Cespedes and Wilson (now the Tigers best reliever), and Speier for Porcello. That trade seems silly now.
Looking at that trade in hindsight is useless. It was a fair trade at the time. Porcello was coming off his best year. Cespedes was not acquired at a discount. The Tigers view of Wilson is much different than yours. He has been their mid innings guy. No matter how effective, they continue to use him in low leverage situations. Lately, they haven’t used him much at all.
He is their end of the game guy (8th or 9th inning) for a while now. He has an ERA in the low 2s. The Tigers view of Wilson is commensurate with the fact that he is their BEST reliever right now.
My point is that the Red Sox tanked Cespedes’s value with that “leaked” information about his un-coachability.
When are the Rockies going to do this to Jose Reyes?
With Verlander, Miggy and Vmart on the same team its strange the Tigers are having so many problems like this, maybe not so many just very public problems. Can’t bode well for Ausmus’ future.
What do you mean so many problems like this? I don’t think that this is an issue for any other player on that team. They have the worst record in the central and have come off four straight division titles so I don’t expect them to look happy all the time, but I definitely think all of them are still giving it their all.
Was referring to the Jose Iglesias blow up.
Ausmus doesn’t have a future with the Tigers. There is no way they will extend him, and he won’t be back as a lame duck for a team that will be trying to contend. His recent use of the bullpen, IMO, has cemented his future. He seems to be trying whoever has the highest era as his closer, and even with the team eliminated, he refuses to use any of the call ups. It would have been nice to see if any of them could help next year.
Wonder if his arm just never healed yet. Wonder if Iott is an M.D. and examined the arm and the medical history of Rondon? To say it took to long to heal and for him to be ready to pitch goes a bit too far. Wonder if was a case of the player saying his arm did not feel right and was afraid to let loose but the team and their medical staff thought he should be able to throw 100%.
It didn’t even hint at that being the case. Being that it was not an unusual injury, there are plenty of cases to compare his rehab time to.
Matt Dery’s 105.1 interview with Castellanos was very interesting and worth listening to:
1. He was specific about Rondon pitching only 91MPH ONLY in non-save situations. “That does not look good”.
2. He came up with Rondon.. but “never really hung with him.”
3. He believes that Torii would have handled this if he were on the team.
Will check that out. Thanks for the heads up.
Some of the veterans did speak to Rondon and he either did not listen, blew them off, or ignored them. That tells me they must have felt that something needed to be done to shock him and get his attention.
Asmus must have also tried to get the message to him but no word of any action taken by the manager.
Rondon was DD’s Waterloo in Detroit. He anointed Rondon “the closer” before Rondon even pitched an inning in the major leagues. Then Rondon was forced into the spotlight and the big leagues way before he was polished enough to perform. He was supposed to be the answer to all the bullpen problems and Detroit gambled that it would happen. Rondon was coddled to the point where it has reversed his career.
Rondon is a gifted pitcher with a golden, rocket of an arm. Success has been easy for him as he only had to “throw” rather than “pitch” to get to AAA.
Now he refuses, or does not believe, it is necessary to put forth the work or effort to climb up to the next level..He was given a spot on the 25 man squad and has not earned it with effort. His lazy approach to be in physical shape, rehab. an injury, and everyday pitcher routines had reached the breaking point. It must have been so bad that the organization had no other recourse, that had not been done before, to try to get the message across to him.
I hope he goes home, thinks about what he needs to do to continue a very wealthy career in baseball, and starts 2016 hungry and motivated.
Bad attitude is now low effort level? Wow.
No, low effort is low effort. Dimitri Young was a case of bad attitude. I believe they called it like they saw it.
Rich “El Guapo” Garces