Tommy John Surgery Claims Latest Young Pitcher: Tigers’ Bruce Rondon

An unusually high number of Tommy John surgery patients increased by one Friday when the Tigers announced righthanded reliever Bruce Rondon, their No. 3 prospect, needed the procedure.

Bruce Rondon

Bruce Rondon (Photo by Mike Janes)

“It came up suddenly," general manager Dave Dombrowski told the Detroit Free-Press. "He brought it up Monday.”

The Tigers plan to look at internal candidates to replace Rondon, who would have set up closer Joe Nathan. Free agent import Joba Chamberlain was competing with Rondon for that spot and could step in.

According to Baseball America contributor Chris Iott, Dombrowski said Rondon complained of discomfort in his elbow Monday and was checked out by Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday.

Rondon, who made 30 appearances for the Tigers in 2013, went 1-2, 3.45 with 30 strikeouts in 29 innings. When healthy, Rondon's fastball sits at 97-100 mph and has boring action into righthanders. His slider, while better late in 2013, still is inconsistent. His command has improved the past two seasons.

Rondon's injury continues a run of misfortune for the Tigers. Shortstop Jose Iglesias is out for the season due to stress fractures in both his shins, and outfielder Andy Dirks is out for 12 weeks after having back surgery.

At least five other pitchers have had or are projected to perhaps need ligament replacement surgery. Prior to spring training, the Padres announced Cory Luebke would need a second TJ surgery. On Monday, the Braves confirmed Kris Medlen would have a second TJ, while  teammate Brandon Beachy appears headed for a second. The Athletics' Jarrod Parker will have a second ligament replacement surgery as well, the team confirmed Monday.

Additionally, Diamondbacks lefty Pat Corbin appears destined to have the procedure, albeit for a first time.