Detroit — Bruce Rondon has had better weeks.
He incited a benches-clearing fracas on Wednesday, hitting the Royals’ Mike Moustakas in the ninth inning of a 16-2 game. After a day off Thursday, he was summoned to pitch the eighth inning on Friday, with the Tigers leading 5-3.
He gave up the lead in eight pitches — the last a hanging slider that Josh Reddick deposited into the seats in right field, the eventual winning, three-run home run.
Rondon declined interview requests after the game Wednesday night. He also declined to speak before or after the game on Friday. But after the Tigers took batting practice Saturday, he sat down with reporters.
The interview was translated from Spanish by Tigers interpreter Bryan Almonte. Rondon’s answers are paraphrased here by Almonte. There was no attempt to do a straight translation.
Q. Can you talk about Wednesday’s incident, how you saw all that play out?
A. “He said he tried to go inside, but just lost control in terms of, it just went too (far) inside. That’s about it. He said he just tried to go inside.”
Q. Were you surprised how he reacted, and how others reacted to it, as well?
A. “He says that he feels as though that was something they were looking for, because at no point did he try or signal that he was going to try to hit them or retaliate in any way. So, he felt it was something they had in the back of their mind, not him.”
Q. A lot of people saw Lorenzo Cain score from second on a base hit and thought it might be interpreted as running up the score. Is that something you noticed and did you take any offense to that?
A. “He said that’s baseball. If he decided that he hit a single and he scored, that’s part of the game.”
Q. Did either Al Avila or Brad Ausmus talk to you after the game with regards to any disciplinary action?
A. “All they told him was keep working hard out there, don’t let it get to you and just move on.”
Q. Did Major League Baseball get in touch with you?
A. “No they didn’t reach out.”
Q. How did you feel when Brad went back to you in a very high-leverage situation last night? How did you interpret that?
A. “He said that Brad spoke to him (before the game), said that’s when he was going to use him, to be ready for the eighth inning because he trusts him in those situations. The reason why he put him in the previous game against Royals was because he hadn’t pitched in three days and he wanted to get him some work out there. He told him to be ready for the game so he can get the ball to the closer.”
Q. Are you worried about your future with organization?
A.“He said he’s not really letting it affect him, because at the end of the day, anything can happen on any given day. He could be with the team today. He could be with the team tomorrow. So, it’s just a matter of controlling what he can control and going out there to do his job.”
Q. Did you feel like last night was a chance at redemption?
A. “He said he didn’t look at it that way. He just looked at it as another day for him to do his job and that’s what he was mainly focused on. What hurt him about the situation was the ball left his hand and didn’t go where he wanted it to go — he just felt like he couldn’t get other pitches involved in that at-bat. But what he was more focused on was just getting the job done.”
Q. The slider was not working as well last night as it had been?
A. “He said he had two or three sliders that were good, but mostly he didn’t have the control that he was normally getting recently. He’d been having success with that pitch. He’s going to just continue to work on it.”
Q. Did you feel any need to apologize to teammates or smooth things over in clubhouse after Wednesday?
A. “He said that they really didn’t have a chance to speak about that specifically, about that incident, since they were just so focused on winning. And since they had just lost that game as bad as they did, the whole team decided to just turn the page and not focus on what happened.”
Q. Has the situation in Venezuela been weighing on you at times?”
A. “He said he thinks about it from time to time, but it’s not something he mainly focuses on. He understands that he has family out there and it is dangerous at the moment, but he still has a job to do. So, he uses this as his safe haven, to be able to just focus on baseball and then think about everything else afterwards. But it doesn’t really affect him when he’s out there.”