LAKELAND, Fla. -- For Joakim Soria and Joba Chamberlain, Spring Training action begins on Sunday. In the case of Bruce Rondon, there's more work to be done.
While Soria and Chamberlain will make their Grapefruit League debuts on Sunday against the Astros at Joker Marchant Stadium, Rondon will face hitters in live batting practice one more time on Monday morning. If that goes well, he's expected to make his first game appearance on Thursday. The Tigers have a split-squad set that afternoon -- hosting the Phillies, while also visiting the Astros.
"[Rondon] hasn't seen hitters [in games] for so long, I just want him to throw one more batting practice," pitching coach Jeff Jones said on Saturday morning.
Rondon threw live BP on Friday morning and felt fine. His velocity was "really good," according to Jones, as was his changeup. As is the case with many pitchers coming off elbow ligament replacement, Rondon's slider -- his secondary pitch of choice in 2013 -- is going to be a work in progress, given the stress the pitch often puts on an elbow.
"Usually, the slider is the last to come [back]," Jones said.
Rondon missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last March on his right elbow. His last game was in the middle of last Spring Training, a scoreless inning against the Nationals last March 16.
Chamberlain and Soria have been healthy by all accounts, but behind schedule compared to other pitchers -- for different reasons. Chamberlain didn't enter camp until Feb. 24, signing a one-year contract a few days after workouts officially began. Soria threw an extra bullpen session by his choice last week before throwing live batting practice.
Jason Beck has been MLB.com's Tigers beat reporter since 2002. He covered 119 losses in 2003 and an AL pennant in 2006.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.