ST. PETERSBURG -- Don't put Jeremy Bonderman into retirement quite yet. But he isn't ruling it out as an option if the free-agent market puts him in a bad spot.
One day after Bonderman told the Detroit Free Press that he has thought about retirement more than once as he heads into an uncertain future this offseason, he stepped back a bit from that. He still loves baseball, and he wants to pitch. But he's bracing himself for a worst-case scenario.
"I love pitching," Bonderman said.
At this point, that's difficult to fathom. Even after eight Major League seasons and injuries that cost him most of the last two years, he doesn't turn 28 years old until this offseason. Though his ERA stands at 5.05, his health has been consistent. Bonderman talked in Spring Training about possibly retiring if his arm failed him again, but that hasn't been the case.
"I feel my health is good," Bonderman said. "I've just got to find a way to get people out."
A month ago, that wasn't a question. He was pitching more like his old self, and he was talking about letting the chips fall where they may this offseason if the Tigers choose not to re-sign him. He owns a 7.57 ERA in five starts since, allowing 39 hits and six home runs over 27 1/3 innings.
Bonderman clearly would like to return to the Tigers next year, though he knows that could be a difficult sell with Andy Oliver potentially ready to join the rotation full-time, Charlie Furbush possibly not far away from a shot and Jacob Turner rising fast. If Bonderman can't come back to Detroit, he told the Free Press he'd like to pitch on the West Coast close to his home in Washington state.
Bonderman didn't talk about fallback options and didn't want to comment on what-ifs. Still, it's difficult to envision Bonderman, after eight Major League seasons, pitching in Triple-A next season.
"Just got to see if I get offered a contract," Bonderman said.