Bruce Rondon passed his first minor test of spring training Sunday afternoon in his quest to become the Tigers' closer.

Throwing against batters for the first time, facing his first dose of pressure, Rondon didn't appear nervous. He didn't look overwhelmed. He stayed around the strike zone and didn't freak out.

Which is good news for the Tigers.

If Rondon would have failed this first step -- which was nothing but a baby step -- then the Tigers would have been in serious trouble.

Make no mistake, it wasn't a major test. It wasn't a midterm. It was more like a pop quiz to start the semester.

Rondon pitched to a group of players you have probably never heard of. For the most part, each one got to see three pitches. There was no umpire.

But when the big flamethrower took the mound -- the guy who could be the most important member of the Tigers' bullpen -- it was clear that all eyes were locked on Rondon. He has turned into the biggest story line of spring training. Several photographers stood along the side, capturing the moment, and several coaches and members of the front office watched from behind the batting cage.

Manager Jim Leyland sat behind the fence, out of sight, but he was watching. "I was watching his demeanor," Leyland said. "I was watching his delivery."

Rondon didn't throw his hardest. He said he was throwing at about 90 miles per hour, about 10 miles below his cruising speed.