Once again the biggest question going into spring training is how the Detroit Tigers bullpen will look in 2015. Although the General Manager Dave Dombrowksi didn’t make any major acquisition in the off-season, the bullpen should be much improved in 2015. That is of course if a couple of key players can return to form this season.
Bruce Rondon has been throwing bullpen sessions and is easing his way back into playing shape. According to a report on Mlive, Rondon’s bullpen went well on Friday and barring any set backs will throw again on Monday.
"“He looked like he was being careful,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said, “which is what we wanted him to do at this point.”“We’re just going to take a little extra time and see how he feels,” Ausmus said. “A lot of it is going to be how he bounces the next day. We’re handling him a little bit with kid gloves at this point.”"
Another player the Tigers are counting on for bullpen success is Joakim Soria. By all accounts Soria is healthy this spring, Hopefully a full season in Detroit without the stress of a trade will help him regain the mental edge he seemed to lose down the stretch last season.
"“People are going to have their opinions,” Soria said. “That’s fine. They can say what they want. It’s up to us to prove them wrong about our bullpen. We’ve got guys here who’ve had a lot of success in their careers. We’re confident in what we have and what we’re capable of doing.”"
To his credit, Joakim Soria knows last years performance didn’t guarantee him a specific role in the bullpen. He knows as long as he pitches well that will work itself out.
"“It doesn’t matter that I don’t have a certain role right now,” he said. “What’s most important is that I’m healthy and ready to do my job the best possible. I think our bullpen’s going to be fine this season. A lot of things went wrong last season. But that’s last year. It’s over. You move on.”"
If Joe Nathan stumbles as the Tigers closer this season the Tigers are depending on Soria to pick up the slack. His ability to have success a as closer if needed will be key to the team success this season.
Tom Gorzelanny was the lone bullpen acquisition this offseason. The lefty from the Milwaukee Brewers should assume the left-handed specialist role this season and he is optimistic about his opportunity to compete for a championship in Detroit.
"“It’s just a really good team,” Gorzelanny said. “A team like this, capable of winning the World Series, it’s something you want to be a part of, so it’s something that’s pretty easy for a guy to want to come here.”“Just excited for the start of things.”"
The biggest question coming into the season is the status of Joel Hanrahan. The Tigers acquired the former closer early last season in hope that he would be ready to help the Tigers down the stretch. Hanrahan is hopeful that opportunity will come this season but according to Brad Ausmus he has a long way to go.
"“It’s been a bumpy road for him,” Ausmus said. “Really, we don’t know what’s going to happen, so we’ll just wait and see.”“He’s on the schedule right now,” Ausmus said. “But I would characterize him at less than 100 percent at this point.”"
Last season Buck Farmer and Kyle Ryan had a cup of coffee in Detroit as starters. That earned them an invite to spring training but they will be getting work in the bullpen to give them a chance to make the club when camp breaks. Ian Krol, Blaine Hardy, and Al Alburquerque are some of the incumbents that will also be competing for bullpen slots.