Tudor Dixon criticizes using taxpayer funds to lure battery plant project to Big Rapids

Tigers' Rondon brings 100 mph heat in return

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Bruce Rondon, shown here during a drill earlier this spring training, pitched a scoreless inning Thursday against the Phillies.

Lakeland, Fla. — Justin Verlander smiled and shook his head.

"No big deal," he said. "Just come back from Tommy John pumping 100."

It's been a while since Verlander has rung triple digits on the radar gun, but Bruce Rondon, in his first game action since recovering from Tommy John surgery more than 11 months ago, threw his first pitch at 97 mph.

His second pitch was at 98.

His third pitch, which the Phillies' Freddy Galvis skied to center fielder Rajai Davis, came in at 100 mph.

"That did surprise me a little bit," pitching coach Jeff Jones said. "But Bruce is a real strong kid. When I talked to the trainers before I got down here that's what they kept telling me, how strong he was. They didn't feel (velocity) was going to be a problem.

"Hopefully there will be no setbacks. He's worked extremely hard to get where he's at now."

Rondon, whose bullpen and live batting practice sessions had been erratic at times, worked a scoreless sixth inning.

After throwing 100 mph to Galvis, he started Andres Blanco with a change-up and mixed a couple more breaking balls before getting him to ground out to first.

He started the next hitter, Cameron Rupp, with two breaking balls and then three straight high-90s heaters. He hung a 3-2 breaking ball and Rupp doubled to left.

He finished the inning getting Ben Revere to fly to center on a 98 mph fastball.

"I thought he threw the ball great," Jones said. "His velocity was good, he threw a couple of good change-ups. His slider was just OK. Usually the breaking ball is the last one to come. I was very happy with him."

Rondon threw 15 pitches, nine for strikes.

"He was very aggressive and that's what we were hoping for," Jones said.

Just as important as how he threw Thursday, Jones said, will be how he feels on Friday.

"The entire spring I've had to make sure and double check with him the following day," Jones said. "Fortunately he didn't throw a ton of pitches. He should come out of it fine."

Jones said they were going to hold Rondon to about 25 pitches.