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Bruce Rondon expected to be ready and willing for Tigers spring training

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Tigers reliever Bruce Rondon got sent home early last season because of a lack of effort. He was then involved in a crazy benches-clearing brawl in the Venezuelan Winter League. And he also recently contracted the chikungunya virus, which caused him to miss a scheduled appearance on the Tigers’ annual caravan tour around the state of Michigan.

An ugly string of events, but the hard-throwing 25-year-old right-hander is expected to report to spring training on time and should be a full participant from the get-go. Tigers GM Al Avila spoke this weekend with Aaron McCann of MLive.com

“That virus, his virus, it’s a contagious thing,” Avila said Saturday during TigerFest at Comerica Park. “Even though right now he’s probably OK, our doctors felt why put the other guys at risk?

“It was more of a precaution to keep him there, because he’s still not 100 percent ready to go. But from everything our doctors are telling me, he should have no issues in spring training.”

Rondon was once considered the Tigers’ closer of the future and he earned five saves as a fill-in last season, but he has taken a tumble down the bullpen depth chart. He finished the 2015 campaign with a 5.81 ERA in 35 total appearances.

Bryce Harper played some third base in an intrasquad game

Bryce Harper third base
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Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper played some third base during Monday’s intrasquad game at Citizens Bank Park, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Harper had been pestering manager Joe Girardi for the opportunity and the skipper finally gave in.

Girardi told Harper, “No diving. And make sure your arm is loose.” Harper had the opportunity to field one ball, a grounder to his left and he made the play perfectly.

Why put Harper at third base? Girardi said, “I think it’s important the guys have fun. I saw him a week ago taking ground balls there and I was impressed. His hands worked well out front and he threw the ball across the field well. I told him, ‘You look good there.'”

Despite the solid showing, don’t expect Harper to show up at third base in a meaningful game anytime soon. That being said, the Phillies’ second and third base situations are still not cemented. Jean Segura will likely open the season at the hot corner with Scott Kingery at second, but things could change between now and Opening Day in 10 days.

Harper, 27, is coming off a solid first season with the Phillies. He hit .260/.372/.510 with 36 doubles, 35 home runs, 114 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases across 682 plate appearances. Per FanGraphs, Harper’s 4.6 Wins Above Replacement ranked 16th in the National League. For some people, those numbers weren’t nearly good enough, so the expectations remain high as Harper enters year two of his 13-year, $330 million contract.