Virus sidelines Rondon from Tigers' offseason activities
Detroit — It’s been one calamity after another for Tigers reliever Bruce Rondon.
The latest — a bout with the Chikungunya virus, which according to Tigers general manager Al Avila will most likely keep him from participating in the TigerFest and Winter Caravan events later this week.
“We will probably go the conservative way since the virus is contagious,” Avila said in a text message Monday night.
The Chikungunya virus (pronounced chik-en-gun-ye), transmitted by mosquitoes, typically causes fever for five to seven days, as well as joint pain that can last for months.
Avila made it clear, though, that Rondon was expected to be fully recovered in time to begin spring training. Pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 18.
Rondon, whom the Tigers sent home for a lack of effort on Sept. 22, pitched briefly in the Venezuelan Winter League. He was ejected in one game for his involvement in an on-field scuffle that happened after he hit an opposing batter.
Once considered the Tigers’ future closer, Rondon is facing long odds to win a roster spot next season. After recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2014 and battling biceps tendonitis through the first half of last season, Rondon never found his footing. He posted a 5.81 ERA and 1.61 WHIP before being sent home.
The Tigers this offseason acquired three back-end relievers — veterans Mark Lowe and Francisco Rodriguez, and left-hander Justin Wilson.
Even if Rondon manages to make amends and regain the trust of his teammates, he will still need a powerful spring showing to make the team.
“It’s do-able,” manager Brad Ausmus said during the Winter Meetings. “If he comes back and he works hard, shows his teammates he wants to be part of a winning team, and you can tell when he’s on the mound that he’s focused and wants to succeed — it’s definitely do-able.”
The Tigers Winter Caravan and TigerFest is Thursday and Friday.