Armed with his newly-honed changeup, Bonderman began his sixth Major League campaign looking to throw it early and in various counts. He was on with it early in the game before giving up a two-run homer to Alex Gordon in the fourth inning.
He didn't throw as many changeups as he might've liked, but when he did, he liked most of the results.
"I was getting a lot of quick outs on sinkers and stuff like that," Bonderman said. "When I threw [changeups], I felt I threw them well. I've given up home runs on other pitches, so giving up a home run on a changeup is part of the game. It won't be the last one I ever give up. I just want to focus on keeping the ball down."
That Bonderman isn't afraid of bad results with the offspeed is a big step. He has worked on his changeup for the past several years, but went away on it in other seasons after bad results. The key, manager Jim Leyland said in Spring Training, will be for Bonderman to keep his confidence in it.
"He threw some decent changeups," Leyland said. "He got the one changeup up, and Gordon hit it out to the opposite field. I thought overall, he gave us a chance to win and pitched fairly well. All three of our starters did that."
Unfortunately for Bonderman, he ended up with the same result as Kenny Rogers a day earlier. Bonderman allowed four runs on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings to suffer his second straight season-opening loss, a start in which he normally shines.
"I made two mistakes," Bonderman said, "but other than that, I threw the ball really well. I moved the ball around, up and down the strike zone. I made a couple mistakes and they punished me for it."
The other mistake resulted in a Mark Teahen solo homer in the sixth inning.
But with the Tigers' offensive struggling for most of the day, Bonderman had virtually no room for mistakes.
"You have to give them credit," Bonderman said of the Royals. "It's not like they're slouches over there. Obviously they came in ready to go, and they threw great games. They kept us off-balance. They're a very good team, and I don't think anyone should take them lightly."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.