Rondon Makes Thrilling Return
Indians righty back after missing two years
CLEVELAND—When you haven't pitched competitively for more than two years while enduring two surgeries on the same elbow, returning to the Double-A level doesn't sound so bad.
It's all a matter of having the right perspective, a fact of baseball life that righthander Hector Rondon knows all too well. So when he joined Double-A Akron at the end of August for a playoff run that resulted in the team's fourth Eastern League championship, Rondon was thrilled to be along for the ride.
"These guys are great," said the 6-foot-3, 180-pound Rondon. "There's no (players) left here from when I was here, but these young guys are fun to be with. I'm enjoying it."
The Indians signed Rondon out of Venezuela in 2004. The last time he was in Akron was the first half of the 2009 season, when he was on his way to being Indians minor league pitcher of the year. A starter then, he went 7-5, 2.75, striking out 73 in 72 innings before earning a promotion to Triple-A Columbus. He returned to Columbus to open 2010 and was one of the first in line to be called up when the parent club needed help in the rotation.
The call never came for Rondon. After seven starts, it was obvious something was wrong, as he had an 8.53 ERA in 32 innings. When a couple of months of rest did little to help, Rondon had Tommy John surgery. Fifteen months later while making his way back, he broke the same right elbow in December 2011.
"When I throw in a game, I don't feel anything at all," Rondon, 24, said. "It's the day afterwards that I feel really sore in the muscle and where the screws are. But the doctors told me I would feel like that for maybe a year."
Flash forward to end of the 2012 season. Anyone not aware of Rondon's story would have been hard pressed to tell he'd been injured. Now pitching in one-inning increments as a set-up man, he showed his old form throughout the playoffs.
• Lefthander Rafael Perez was shut down for the season on Sept. 18 with a recurrence of inflammation and soreness in his left shoulder, meaning he pitched in just eight games with the Tribe during the 2012 season.
• Akron third baseman Adam Abraham was named MVP of the Eastern League championship. In nine postseason games, he batted .300 with three triples, eight RBIs and a home run.