Chicago — He got a wink from Miguel Cabrera. If that doesn’t make your day.
Former Tigers reliever Bruce Rondon, much beleaguered in his final three seasons in Detroit, is trying to restart his career with the White Sox. And he’s off to a good start.
He was called up from Triple-A Sunday and struck out four straight Tigers, including Cabrera, in his debut.
“He winked,” Rondon told MLB.com after the game.
Rondon started Cabrera off with two fastballs, one at 99 mph and the next at 100 mph. But he struck him out with a nasty slider.
“It was a really nice experience for me because I knew I was facing one of the best hitters in the world, for me the best,” he said. “To be able to face him and to strike him out was a really, really good experience.”
He went on to strike out the side in the ninth — Nick Castellanos, Niko Goodrum and Mikie Mahtook.
Rondon took the high road when asked about his troubled times with the Tigers.
“First and foremost, I want to thank God because it was good today,” he said. “What happened in the past is in the past. I don’t like to think about the past. My focus is in right now and in the future.
“I also want to thank (the Tigers) because they gave me the first opportunity to pitch in the Majors.”
From the time former manager Brad Ausmus and general manager Al Avila sent him home in September 2015, citing a lack of effort, to his mini-breakout year in 2016 (5-2, 2.97 ERA) to his implosion last year (19 runs in 15.1 innings), his Tigers tenure was an adventure.
Finally, the Tigers cut their ties with him this offseason, not tendering him a contract.
“Honestly, I needed a fresh start, a change,” he said. “Just a start from scratch in another organization with no strings attached. I think with this opportunity with the White Sox I’m able to do it.
“I showed it today in the first time, all the good things I can accomplish.”
Working on it
The Tigers bullpen has allowed three runs in their last 21.2 innings, including three clutch scoreless innings in the 1-0 win Sunday.
But Gardenhire is still concerned.
“It’s still a work in progress,” he said. “Other guys still need to get into ballgames. We can’t keep using the same guys.”
Alex Wilson, Daniel Stumpf, Joe Jimenez and Shane Greene have accounted for 12.2 of those innings.
Drew VerHagen hasn’t pitched since Tuesday and Buck Farmer has only pitched to one batter in a week.
“We’ve got to use them all,” Gardenhire said. “We are going to figure the whole thing out eventually.”
Around the horn
John Hicks threw out one of two would-be base-stealers Sunday. The Tigers catchers have thrown out 6 of 10 base stealers.
…The Tigers stole seven bases in the series, the most they’ve swiped since taking eight bases against the Indians in April 2015. Their run of seven straight stolen bases was stopped when Dixon Machado was thrown out on a close play in the fifth inning.
… Machado walked in the fifth. He’s the only Tiger who has reached base safely in all eight games.