By Shannon Drayer
Mixed results for the veteran pitchers coming off injuries Friday. In Tempe, Jeremy Bonderman faced an Angels lineup that had plenty of regulars in it and came away with four solid innings pitched with just two runs surrendered. After the game he said he felt good and that the only mistake he thought he made resulted in a Chris Iannetta double.
Two weeks ago when I talked to Bonderman he was clearly still focused on coming off of the surgery and how his arm and pitches responded. Today he had the look of a pitcher who was competing and getting ready for the season. A great indicator that he is at least mentally past the adjustment and that he is now getting in work rather than trying to get comfortable is that he tried something he had never done before. He threw a splitter to a right hander.
Eric Wedge was pleased with what he saw and said Bonderman threw well. Coming in to camp he appeared to be the longest of shots having not thrown in a game since 2010 and coming off multiple injuries. I would say his odds are a bit better now having shown improvement start to start. Another positive sign is today he was approaching the velocity he had on his fastball when he was healthy.
One question that remains unanswered is if he would accept a minor-league assignment should he need more work.
“There’s some good guys,” he said while preferring not to answer the question directly. “If I don’t make the team, I don’t make the team. It’s part of the business. I proved to myself I can pitch again in the big leagues. If it ain’t here, it’ll be somewhere, hopefully. If not, I’ll be at home.”
Jon Garland did not fare as well in the night game against the Netherlands. He fought mechanics and command in the three innings he pitched and ended up giving up five runs on six hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.
“I was just rushing to the plate and my front side was opening up heavily and jerking a lot of balls, getting behind in the count, giving them extra chances,” he said.
Wedge kept Garland in the game to get to his pitch count and was hoping that he would be able to correct the mechanics, but it didn’t happen.
“Not quite as sharp,” he said of Garland’s performance. “He was up quite a bit and having some problems getting his secondary stuff over so that’s a tough combo there. He just wasn’t able to find it.”
With 17 players sent down in the last two days it’s obvious that it’s game on for everyone remaining. This includes the guys coming off injuries, according to Wedge.
“We are at a point in camp now where they are competing for jobs. They still have to go out there and pitch and we will see what happens,” he said.
For Garland, one poor performance does not a spring make. After the game he had put it behind him.
“It’s a lot easier for me in the position I am in than for a younger guy trying to make the team,” he said. “It’s not going to be the end of the world for me if they tell me I am out of here. There are 29 more teams and if someone wants to give me a chance they will. And if not, they won’t.