Thursday, August 6, 2009

Rehabbing Bonderman experiments with splitter

        Strange as it may sound, Jeremy Bonderman, who is battling his way back to the big leagues following arm trouble, is experimenting with a split-finger fastball — a pitch that has been known to be harmful to the arms of some pitchers in the past.
        Bonderman, who hopes to be back with the Tigers, albeit in the bullpen, by September, thinks the splitter can be an alternative to the elusive change-up that he has been chasing for years. The Tigers have been encouraging Bonderman to add a change-up as a third pitch in his repertoire since he joined the team in 2003.
        “I think it’s a good idea, it’s certainly worthy trying,” a somewhat skeptical  Jim Leyland said Thursday when he was asked about Bonderman’s splitter.
        “I’m looking for results. I don’t care what they throw. If he can get people out with the splitter, I’m all for it.”
        Former Tigers pitching coach Roger Craig was an early proponent of the splitter, which was made famous by Hall of Fame reliever Bruce Sutter and featured by Tigers’ ace Jack Morris, among many others.
        Nevertheless, many believe the splitter places undue stress on a pitcher’s elbow and shoulder and can lead to loss in velocity — which is the very thing Bonderman is trying to regain.
        Bonderman first tried to throw the splitter in spring training when he was coming off shoulder surgery. But he stopped because his arm didn’t feel right.
        When he tried to throw it again in a simulated game last week, he found the pitch more to his liking.   Of the 13 pitches Bonderman threw in his 1-2-3 inning in his first rehab appearance with Toledo on Tuesday, four were splitters.
        Bonderman is scheduled to pitch for the Mud Hens again Thursday night.
        Nate Robertson, who is also rehabbing with Toledo, will make his next start for the Mud Hens on Saturday.


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