It wasn't the plan when Rondon progressed to game action a month ago and the Tigers' bullpen was struggling to carry leads to closer Joakim Soria. In the end, however, it was the logical decision.
"He's just got to keep pitching," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "He's certainly got the ability to pitch at this level. But you've got to remember, it's been a year since he's pitched competitively, over a year. And I don't think it'll hurt him from a health perspective, as well as a baseball perspective, to pitch in Toledo some."
Rondon joined the Hens on rehab May 21 after spending the first month and a half of the season on the DL with bicipital tendinitis. From there, the results have been mixed. While Rondon has shown himself to be healthy, which is the biggest issue, he has not shown consistent effectiveness. He has given up 10 earned runs on 15 hits over 8 2/3 innings with five walks and nine strikeouts in nine games with Toledo. His fastball has ranged from the mid-to-upper 90s, but he hasn't consistently been able to locate.
"I think he was pitching down there more with the idea that he was preparing, getting his body prepared," Ausmus said. "Not that he's not trying to get the guys out, but the priority was to get his arm and body ready. But now he's in a situation where he's got to get outs."
The Tigers want to see how he responds in that situation. For all the importance he has carried to Detroit's relief hopes, the 24-year-old still has barely a half-season of Major League experience under his belt, and that was two years ago.
The move means that the Tigers are sticking with a three-lefty bullpen for their series against the Reds, Yankees and Indians, all of whom have left-handed hitters to match up. Tom Gorzelanny, Blaine Hardy and just-recalled Ian Krol appear safe as a trio for at least the next week or two.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.