Shoulder tendinitis likely to force Rondon to DL

Hard-throwing right-handed reliever unlikely to be ready for Opening Day

Shoulder tendinitis likely to force Rondon to DL

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Tigers reliever Bruce Rondon is considered day to day after an MRI exam showed tendinitis in his right shoulder, pitching coach Jeff Jones said Thursday morning.

The diagnosis came after Rondon was scratched from a scheduled relief appearance Wednesday against the Astros. Rondon, who struck out the side in order Tuesday, was scheduled to pitch a second straight game -- one of the final hurdles towards being ready for Opening Day -- but he woke up with a sore shoulder.

A bout of tendinitis would make an Opening Day return seem difficult, if not impossible. Still, considering the injuries the hard-throwing right-hander has had to overcome the past year and a half, it's arguably good news compared to what the results of the MRI could have been.

The shoulder injury is not believed to be related to the sore neck that sidelined Rondon for a few days last week. It's also not related to the elbow injury that led to season-ending Tommy John surgery about a year ago.

If Rondon isn't ready for Opening Day, his absence opens up a relief spot for somebody else. If manager Brad Ausmus wants a right-hander who can fill Rondon's role, rookie Angel Nesbitt is a likely candidate, having impressed with a mid- to upper-90s fastball and slider.

On the other hand, Ausmus hasn't ruled out the idea of carrying three left-handed relievers, which would allow him to keep both hard-throwing southpaw Ian Krol and converted starter Kyle Ryan.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.