Bonderman to attempt comeback with Mariners
Former Tigers starter Jeremy Bonderman, who hasn’t pitched in the Majors since arm injuries sidelined him in 2010, has signed a Minor League contract with the Mariners with an invitation to Major League camp.
Bonderman, 30, posted a 67-77 record with a 4.89 ERA in eight seasons with Detroit, with arm problems plaguing his final few seasons.
But the big right-hander had Tommy John surgery in April and said he’s now getting back to full strength, already able to throw fastballs off a mound, and looking forward to competing for a job this spring with the Mariners.
“I’ve been working hard, lost some weight, doing all the little things I probably should have done a long time ago,” he said by phone from his home outside Pasco, Wash. “But live and learn.”
Bonderman has been pondering a comeback while helping raise his two kids, ages 6 and 2. Seattle seemed like the right fit, a four-hour drive across the state.
“It’s close to home,” he said. “Really it just came down to the comfort of going back to Detroit or staying close to home with my family. I haven’t been away from my kids in two years and I wanted to stay close. It’s a great opportunity to come in and make the team and help them and get my career back on track. It seemed like a good fit.”
Bonderman said he’s lost about 20 pounds from his final playing days with the Tigers, now packing about 220 pounds on his 6-foot-2 frame. He’ll report to the Mariners camp in Peoria, Ariz., about a month early to begin working with the team’s trainers to prepare for his comeback.
“I had a lot of success in Detroit, but my arm just gave out toward the end of my career there,” he said. “It’s not the way I wanted to finish up, but I think I can come back and stay healthy and find a way to get it going and get my career back on line. I’d like to play a few more years and see what happens.”
In 2006, Bonderman was a key factor in the Tigers World Series run, going 14-8 with a 4.08 ERA in an AL-leading 34 starts. He also won 14 games in 2005.
Bonderman went 8-10 with a 5.53 ERA in 30 games in 2010, then was out of baseball in 2011 before getting a tryout with the Indians. It was during his physical with Cleveland that his elbow injury was revealed and he underwent Tommy John surgery.
Bonderman was originally selected by Oakland 26th overall in the 2001 June draft following his junior season at Pasco High School. He made a quick rise to the Major Leagues, making only 27 Minor League appearances before arriving in the Majors. He was traded to Detroit on Aug. 22, 2002, and made his Major League debut as a 20-year-old in the Tigers starting rotation in 2003.
The Mariners have an opening in their rotation after trading Jason Vargas to the Angels this week for Kendrys Morales and are still interested in adding another veteran either through free agency or trade.