DETROIT -- Like in previous years, the vast majority of players were in town for TigerFest and the Winter Caravan. Two notable exceptions, closer Francisco Rodriguez and utilityman Mike Aviles, couldn't make it for personal reasons.
The other prominent player missing, reliever Bruce Rondon, has been dealing with a virus contracted from a mosquito bite, general manager Al Avila said. Reports earlier this week identified it as the chikungunya virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel alert for people going through Venezuela and other South American countries for a different virus, known as the Zika virus.
"Even though right now he's probably OK," Avila said, "our doctors felt, 'Why put the other guys at risk?' Right now he's in Florida. I think he's OK by now, and it's more of a precaution to keep him there. He's still not 100 percent ready to go, but from everything that our doctors are telling me, he'll have no issues in Spring Training and be 100 percent healthy by the time he reports."
Rondon will compete for a job in a revamped Tigers bullpen, but the hard-throwing right-hander will have plenty of company. He was on the verge of securing a role last Spring Training when tendinitis forced him onto the disabled list to open the season, starting a turbulent year that ended when the Tigers sent him home in mid-September for a perceived lack of effort. He pitched winter ball in his native Venezuela and received positive reports, though he lost time in mid-December due to a benches-clearing incident with an opposing hitter.
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.