The Tigers may not have a closer issue yet, but they could be working toward one if hard-throwing 22-year-old Bruce Rondon doesn't find the strike zone.
There have been hints out of Tigers camp that longtime manager Jim Leyland is concerned about the current closer situation. However, Tigers management wants to give young prodigy Rondon a full shot -- at least for now.
Leyland is said to remain a fan of veteran closer Jose Valverde, who wasn't brought back after a brutal postseason and remains a free agent. Leyland generally prefers a proven closer.
For now, Tigers management wants Rondon, who's had control problems early this spring. Rondon, 22, has pitched only eight innings above Double-A, but he has reached 102 mph on the gun and has the potential to be an intimidating presence.
Rondon's rocky spring start includes four walks in 2 2/3 innings. But Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski isn't ready to pull the plug.
"We're not looking to add anyone," Dombrowski said.
This could become an issue later, though, if Rondon doesn't find the strike zone. Dombrowski has done a nice job building the Tigers, but sometimes owner Mike Ilitch makes extra room for players he likes.
Meantime, there are a lot of eyes on Rondon.
In his eight innings at Triple-A last year he walked seven, though at three levels he combined to go 2-1 with a 1.53 ERA, with 26 walks and 66 strikeouts.
But Leyland has dropped hints of his concern. "I've never seen any pitcher in my life that throws 100 mph and has good control with it," Leyland told Tigers writers. "I don't care what anybody says. When they're throwing it 100 mph, they're winging it." Joel Sherman of the New York Post and Lynn Henning of the Detroit News reported recently Leyland has concerns about Rondon, and Sherman suggested he views Valverde as a possible "safety net.''
Rondon shaky; Tigers GM says club not eyeing another closer -- yet
CBSSports.com | Mar 4