KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Bruce Rondon gave a lot for coaches and fans to digest Tuesday. The Tigers closer candidate walked two of the four batters he faced, but he didn't allow a ball in play. He threw just nine of his 22 pitches for strikes, but he struck out two Astros on pitches other than fastballs.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland preferred to focus on the last pitch Rondon threw and leave it at that. He didn't want to read too much into it, but it showed him something that Rondon's inning Saturday did not. It showed him trust in something besides the fastball.
"He was wild," Leyland said, "but I liked that 3-2 changeup to [Carlos] Pena."
Rondon knew what most everybody in Osceola County Stadium knew when the count went full on Pena with two on and one out: The veteran slugger would be looking for a fastball. Rondon has a fastball good enough to challenge him regardless if he wanted. Instead, he used Pena's mentality against him.
The changeup was the pitch Rondon wanted to throw, he said through a translator. In other words, he didn't need a coach or catcher Brayan Pena to convince him.
He got the result he wanted, getting Pena to swing early as the offspeed pitch traveled in.
It was just the second out, but it was the last pitch Rondon threw because he had reached his pitch limit. Back-to-back four-pitch walks to Tyler Greene and Jose Altuve elevated his pitch count to the point that he couldn't afford a long at-bat, and Pena's full count was basically the end.
Both walks came while Rondon was trying to locate his fastball in the rain. Rondon, however, indicated the weather and the mound conditions were just a minor factor for him.
Berry dealing with lingering patellar tendinitis
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Add Quintin Berry to the burgeoning list of injured Tigers outfielders. This one, however, has some history to it.
With Detroit already missing Brennan Boesch and Andy Dirks, Berry was scheduled to start in center field for Tuesday's game against the Astros. However, he's dealing with patellar tendinitis and was held back from the trip.
Manager Jim Leyland said Berry told him he could play, but they decided to be cautious. That suggests it shouldn't be a lingering concern. Yet Leyland also said the injury dates back to the end of last season.
An offseason of rest was expected to alleviate Berry's tendinitis, but Leyland said it apparently flares up at times.
With Berry out, Rule 5 Draft pick Jeff Kobernus -- who is competing for playing time in left field -- played all nine innings in center. Nick Castellanos started in left field for the second straight day.
"We'll just have to wait and see," Leyland said. "I'm not going to get too excited about it. It's nobody's fault. It just means that other guys will get a little more playing time. But I've got to really be careful with that, because it's too early to be pounding guys into the ground, playing them too much."
If Berry's tendinitis lingers, one possible concern would be how much of an impact it might have on his speed if it flares up some more. The difference his speed makes, both on the bases and in the field, was the main reason he forged a role on the roster this past summer. If it's going to be an issue, the Tigers will have to watch him.
Leyland to be part of Tigertown reunion
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Jim Leyland was known to be a crooner around the clubhouse during his playing days, and he'll still hum a tune or two. This weekend, he'll be singing in public to some of the former Tigers who used to be his teammates, as more than 100 players who called Tigertown home at one point or another return to honor the place.
Former Detroit player John Young is organizing a reunion of former Tigers who have come through Tigertown over the years. He said 121 players have committed to attending the reunion this weekend in Lakeland, Fla., returning to a complex that stands as the longest-running current home for a Major League team.
Among the events will be a baseball clinic with Lakeland area youth on Saturday in Lakeland's Central Park, a musical performance from former Tiger Bill Slayback on Saturday night, and Leyland on Sunday.
Boesch takes BP; Santiago feels improvement
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Brennan Boesch took batting practice Tuesday as he continued to try to work his way back from the oblique injury that has sidelined him since the beginning days of Tigers camp.
Meanwhile, Ramon Santiago said he was feeling improvement in his strained right calf and would begin stretching and agility exercises to try to get some range.
Boesch said he hopes he could be ready for live batting practice midweek if Max Scherzer throws to hitters. If he could do that, it could put him on track to possibly be ready for games at the end of the week.
Santiago, meanwhile, remains out indefinitely.