The Detroit Tigers have placed veteran right-hander Octavio Dotel on the 15-day disabled list with elbow inflammation and have called up pitching prospect Bruce Rondon to take his spot in the bullpen, the team has announced.
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Dotel, 39, has been dealing with elbow inflammation for the last few weeks, finally forcing the team's hand after he was unavailable in the Tigers' tough, extra-inning loss to the Angels on Sunday. His DL trip is retroactive to Saturday, so he can be activated on May 5 if the swelling goes down by then.
Rondon, 22, was thought to be course to open the season as the Tigers' closer, but the club decided at the end of spring that the young right-hander needed a bit more "development" time. Instead of throwing Rondon into the stopper role, Detroit went forward with a closer-by-committee approach, which has seen mixed results at best.
Known to regularly top 100 miles per hour with his fastball, the young Rondon should add some life to a bullpen that's been worn down over the season's first three weeks. It's unclear whether manager Jim Leyland wants to install Rondon as the club's closer right away or get some lower leverage situations under his belt first.
The right-hander struggled with his control some in the spring -- as he has throughout his pro career -- but seems to have gotten things under control some in the early-goings at Triple-A Toledo. In the small sample of 7⅔ (scoreless) innings, Rondon struck out nine and walked just two.
It's probably no coincidence that Rondon's call-up comes just on the other side of the 20th calendar day of the season, as 20 days of service time is waiting period required at the beginning of a year to keep players on the 40-man roster under team control for another season. Had the young fire-baller made the Opening Day roster, he could have been a free agent after 2018. Now there's no way for him to hit free agency any earlier than 2019.