Tigers sign Jeremy Bonderman to a minor-league deal
DETROIT — One of the good guys is back with the organization that he grew up with.
The Tigers announced Sunday afternoon they’d signed Jeremy Bonderman to a minor league contract, and the former Tiger pitcher will report to Triple-A Toledo on Thursday.
“I love him to death. He’s a wonderful, wonderful teammate, and I’m thrilled about that,” said Jim Leyland, who was Bonderman’s manager for five seasons, but didn’t know anything about the deal until the conclusion of Sunday’s game. “That’s great. He’s going to go to Toledo, and perform, see how he does. We’ll just have to wait to see.
“As far as knowing Jeremy Bonderman, yes. He’s a terrific, terrific teammate.”
Recently designated for assignment by the Seattle Mariners, Bonderman will likely take the spot of Derek Hankins, who recently left the Mud Hens for an opportunity to pitch in Korea.
Bonderman pitched for Detroit from 2003-2010, compiling a 67-77 record, but dealt with a blood clot in his shoulder in 2008 and thoracic outlet syndrome that cost him most of the 2009 season. He returned to the Tigers for 2010, then was out of baseball for two full seasons before getting an opportunity with the Mariners this season. Bonderman was 1-3 with a 4.93 ERA in seven starts for Seattle this year, after earning a call up from Triple-A Tacoma.
There are still 10 players on the Tigers’ active roster who played with Bonderman, who remember him being that terrific teammate.
One of them is Justin Verlander, who shared a locker wall with the fellow 30-year-old for several seasons. Verlander is actually seven months older than Bonderman, but was drafted three years later.
“Jeremy and I are really good friends still. I don’t think anybody was happier, except maybe his family, for seeing him get back to the big leagues with Seattle and pitch pretty well. It’s nice to hear he’s doing well. I’m glad he’s back playing baseball,” Verlander said. “Obviously I wish the best for him, wish he was in the big leagues. But to be with the Tigers again, the team that it all started with, I think it’s good for him personally.”
Bonderman was originally taken in the first round of the 2001 draft by the Athletics, the first U.S. resident to be selected after his junior year of high school. He was traded to the Tigers in 2002 in the three-way deal that sent Jeff Weaver to the Yankees, and also brought Carlos Pena to Detroit.