LAKELAND, Fla. - Bruce Rondon brings something to Tigers Spring Training not seen around Lakeland in years.
"It's been a while since we've seen someone through 103 (mph), like Zumaya," Justin Verlander said.
The rookie right-hander comes into camp with the task of becoming the team's everyday closer.
There will be a difference once the Tigers are in game situations, that part is obvious, but just two days in, he's already turning heads in camp.
"Once the games start, that will give you more of an indication, but his stuff is nasty," Alex Avila said.
"He's really good. The sky's the limit for that kid."
Avila caught Rondon in a bullpen session Monday, with Jim Leyland looking on closely. The Tigers manager said his approach to handling the 22-year old will be calculated throughout the spring.
Leyland said the next time the rookie pitches off the mound, he plans to watch from a distance, to prevent Rondon from feeling like everyone is always staring at him and judging his every move.
"I knew coming in, he had a big arm, but I watch for the way the ball comes out of his hand," Leyland said.
The heralded Venezuelan prospect understands English, but isn't comfortable speaking the language just yet. Leyland communicates with him and worked specifically with him Monday on fielding drills.
"The better he is, the more serious the conversation will be."
He may not communicate in English, but his smile and loud personality translate just fine. Leyland said he's been encouraged by the way Rondon handles himself, and his attitude seems reminiscent of the Tigers most recent closer, Jose Valverde.
"He's got a good head on his shoulders. He's a big boy with a big personality," Avila added.
Brad Galli is a Sports Reporter for WXYZ Detroit. Follow Brad on Twitter @BradGalli .
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