Tigers recall Bonderman to be another veteran presence in bullpen
DETROIT — If one route fails, go another.
The Tigers tried unsuccessfully to get another veteran reliever before the trade deadline, but when that failed in that pursuit, they renavigated down an oft-traveled route, bringing back veteran Jeremy Bonderman.
The 30-year-old former starter was recalled from Triple-A Toledo, where he’d not allowed a run in seven relief appearances, brought in to be the Tigers’ long man, the guy who eats innings, if a starter can’t.
“We were actually looking to add, as you guys know, at the trading deadline, one more veteran, for depth in our bullpen. You know that. We got one of them. With Bonderman now, we feel like we have another one,” manager Jim Leyland said.
“It’s just a matter of, at this juncture, we felt like this would be the better move to make.”
Evan Reed, who’d had that job most recently, was optioned to Toledo. Reed had an ERA of 3.00 in 18 innings with the Tigers, spread over two stints with the big-league club.
“Reed did nothing wrong. He pitched very, very well for us. It was more a matter of getting a veteran arm to pitch a few innings for us,” said Tigers general manager and president Dave Dombrowski, who originally acquired Bonderman as the player to be named later in one of the trades that factored prominently in the movie “Moneyball,” back in 2002.
“He’s pitched very well. He’s thrown strikes. His velocity has been solid. He has good movement. His slider’s been good. He’s actually thrown some change-ups. He’s done a lot of good things for us over there.
“We know what type of make-up he has, very tough. We know he can do the job in very (stressful) situations.”
The Tigers signed Bonderman to a minor-league deal on July 18, after he’d been designated for assignment by the Seattle Mariners. He had an opt-out clause in that deal, but that wasn’t the reason for Sunday’s promotion.
“We had some time. We just think he’s pitched well enough to do it,” Dombrowski said. “But no, we didn’t have to make that decision at this time, yet.”
Bonderman is the 10th different reliever the Tigers have plugged into those final three spots of the bullpen. It’s been a revolving door since the season started, a list that’s included Octavio Dotel, Brayan Villarreal, Jose Ortega, Luke Putkonen, Al Alburquerque, Bruce Rondon, Jose Veras, Jose Valverde and Reed.
Most of those guys, including Reed, are still learning on the job, a rough recipe for a contender like the Tigers.
“We’re talking about a guy that’s not going to panic in situations. I didn’t bring him up solely because he’s a veteran. I brought him up because he’s throwing good, getting people out. He’s certainly been out there before, been in big situations,” Leyland said.
“We brought him up here to get people out. I mean, I love Jeremy Bonderman, and he was a great teammate of mine here for quite a while, obviously, but we don’t bring guys up because we like them. They’ve got to pitch and perform. We’re going to take a look.
“The reports are he’s throwing good — very good.
“It’s as simple as A-B-C. It’s another veteran arm down there, that’s been through this stuff before, and we’re pretty young, with Rondon, Smyly and Alburquerque.
“That’s why we made the move.”
Bumps and bruises
Left-hander Darin Downs was recalled from injury rehab assignment, and optioned to Triple-A Toledo. He’s been on the 15-day disabled list since July 7 with rotator cuff tendinitis. ... Dotel threw 20 pitches off the mound recently, and manager Jim Leyland said he felt good. “I think shortly, if things continue to move forward, there will be some progress on him,” Leyland said. ... Omar Infante did baseball activities on the field pregame, trying to ascertain if he’s ready to start another rehabilitation stint, after his first one was cut short by a regression of his ankle injury. “Not ready,” Leyland said, even before his second baseman went to work out. “Not ready.” ... Ramon Santiago appeared to tweak his right hamstring on a diving play in the fourth inning Sunday, but remained in the game.
Sunday’s crowd of 42,513 brought the weekend total to 127,528, the biggest three-game series total for the season.
“Awesome home stand in the D! Packed crowds every night got us rolling for this road trip,” Drew Smyly tweeted after the team hit the road.
It was the 12th straight game sold out at Comerica Park, and the 24th overall this season. All eight games of the homestand were sold out, totaling 335,717 tickets purchased.
“It’s almost like a fairy-tale homestand, because we won eight straight, and we had eight straight sellouts. That’s hard to believe,” Leyland said. “We’re proud of that, but it’s already yesterday’s breakfast. We’ve got to move on, and now we’re going to Cleveland.”
Matthew B. Mowery covers the Tigers for Digital First Media. Read his “Out of Left Field” blog at opoutofleftfield.blogspot.com.