Rondon called up from Toledo as Farmer goes back down

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Cleveland — First the news:

Right-handed reliever Bruce Rondon will be recalled from Toledo before the Tigers play the White Sox Thursday afternoon.

Buck Farmer, who gave up five runs and eight hits in a spot start here Wednesday, was optioned back to Toledo.

Now the non-news:

When manager Brad Ausmus summoned left-hander Kyle Ryan from the bullpen in the sixth inning, there was immediate speculation that perhaps Justin Verlander's back stiffness had abated. Ryan is scheduled to start against the White Sox Saturday.

Perhaps Verlander was going to be ready by Saturday?


"There is nothing to be read into it all," Ausmus said. "Ryan is still starting Saturday."

Ryan, who started Monday, would normally have pitched his side session Wednesday. Instead, he threw 11 pitches in the game.

"It's a little more intensity, but it's still just 11 pitches," Ausmus said. "He'll be fine."

Ausmus was proactively protecting his bullpen. Relievers had already thrown 7.2 innings this series and he had to pull Farmer, who was at 103 pitches, in the sixth. Instead of burning out one pitcher, he divvied up the remaining 2.2 innings among five pitchers.

As for Verlander's mid-back stiffness, Ausmus said the right-hander felt mostly the same as he did Tuesday.

Rondon ready?

The Tigers hope Rondon can provide more than just a fresh arm. The back end of the bullpen needs a consistent power arm for the seventh or eighth inning.

But Rondon's road back from Tommy John surgery has been anything but smooth. Biceps tendonitis put him on the DL out of spring training and it wasn't until this past week he started showing signs of his old form.

After getting rocked in his eight rehab appearances in Toledo, he's seemed to settle in once the Tigers activated him and sent him to Triple A.

"He's young and he's never been through it before," pitching coach Jeff Jones said. "Maybe in his mind he was just trying to get healthy (during his rehab outings). He could have a different mindset now. Now I have to get to the big leagues."

In his last four appearances in Toledo, he's allowed just one hit and no runs in four innings, while striking out five.

Around the horn

Catcher Alex Avila is expected to fly to Norfolk, Va., Thursday and begin his rehab assignment with Toledo on Friday. Ausmus said the assignment could be from five to eight days.

…The Tigers walked eight Indians Wednesday and several pitchers, particularly Tom Gorzelanny, had issues with home plate umpire Lance Barksdale. Gorzelanny was shown shouting at him from the dugout after he was lifted from the game. Ausmus, though, wouldn't speak on the topic. "It does me no good (to comment) and it does them (players) no good," he said.

…Ausmus was asked if Farmer, who has struggled in two spot starts this season, may be better suited as a reliever. "I'm not going to get into that now," he said. "There are plenty of starters who become relievers and plenty of relievers who become a starter. I am not going to pigeon-hole him right now, two starts into 2015."

Twitter @cmccosky