LAKELAND, Fla. -- Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones built his resume at Triple-A Toledo working out mechanical issues with pitchers he had barely seen in some cases. He's going back to his roots with closing prospect Bruce Rondon.
After a pair of rough Spring Training outings and inconsistent fastball command since Grapefruit League play began a week and a half ago, Rondon is being pulled out of the Tigers' relief rotation this time around so that he can work out some mechanical issues. He'll throw a side session on Wednesday, the day his next game appearance would have been, and then likely return to game action Friday.
The mechanical work will focus on what Jones saw comparing video of Rondon's late-season stint at Triple-A Toledo to what he has seen so far this spring. Jones checked on it after Rondon gave up two runs, including a Tyler Pastornicky home run, Sunday against the Braves.
"We looked at some film this morning," Jones said Monday, "and we saw a couple little things."
Those little differences, Jones believes, might explain why Rondon has been missing high with his fastball so often in his four appearances so far this spring.
Rondon, for his part, said through a translator that he felt a difference in his mechanics this spring. He cited the time off between winter ball in Venezuela and Spring Training as a possible reason. When he saw the video, he immediately identified it.
Jones said he doesn't have a read whether Rondon is trying to overthrow to make an impression, or whether he might be trying to aim the ball to compensate. Though mid-90s fastballs aren't exactly the equivalent of lobbing the ball in, they represent a drop in velocity from his first outing this spring, when he hit 99 mph several times and topped out at 100 two or three times.
"It's tough to say, because this is his first exposure to big league camp," Jones said.