Jeremy Bonderman struggled Monday in his return from the disabled list,
allowing six runs over four innings in his first start in more than a
year, and the Tigers sent him right back to the DL this afternoon.
Bonderman’s stuff was noticeably lacking following shoulder surgery,
as he averaged just 89.6 miles per hour with his fastball Monday after
clocking in at 92-94 mph prior to going under the knife.
As skipper Jim Leyland put it: “If you were a scout and not the manager, I would have said he just didn’t look like he was quite ready.”
And even with a plus fastball Bonderman was never all that
effective, posting a 4.74 ERA in nearly 1,000 innings with a
career-best mark of 4.08 in 2006. Much of his mediocrity stemmed from
sub par off-speed pitches and that hasn’t changed, so if Bonderman
can’t rediscover the missing 3-4 mph on his fastball it’s going to be
extremely tough for him to reemerge as more than a back-of-the-rotation
Unfortunately for the Tigers he’s owed $12.5 million this season and
another $12.5 million in 2010, so much like with Dontrelle Willis they
have no choice but to be patient. For now at least Willis remains in
Detroit’s rotation despite showing similarly diminished stuff while
going 1-3 with a 6.60 ERA and 16/20 K/BB ratio in six starts.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.