- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
Jeremy Bonderman thought that watching the Tigers play in the World Series might fuel his desire to get back to the big leagues, and he did go to see Justin Verlander and other friends when the playoffs took Detroit through Oakland.
But the push for his comeback goes deeper than that, and began long before baseball's postseason began.
Bonderman, who just turned 30, started his workouts long before he had Tommy John surgery in April 2012. He explained over the phone Sunday that most weeks, he's training six days out of seven, and he has cut his weight from 245 to about 210 pounds, or what he weighed as he came out of high school.
"I just want to go out and play," he said. "I just want to go out and compete, and go out on my terms."
The right-hander has 193 starts in the majors and made tens of millions of dollars in the past. "It's not about the money," he said. "I want my son to be in the clubhouse. It's about proving something to myself and my kids."
It feels a heck of a lot better than it did when I left the game. The ball just comes out with that late life at the end.
”-- Jeremy Bonderman
Bonderman bumped into Tigers officials while visiting with Verlander, and he left an immediate impression, apparently; there was some discussion about a possible reunion. Bonderman isn't looking for much. "Just a minor league deal, with a major league [spring training] invite," he said.
Bonderman's last big-league appearance was Oct. 1, 2010, and after that, he returned to Oregon, unsure of what he wanted to do. Throwing a baseball was not a comfortable act for him. He started eating better, eating smaller meals throughout the course of a day rather than a large meal at the end of the day, and he starting training, mixing up his daily routine with a personal trainer -- doing weight work and cardiovascular work, and some yoga. He decided to have the reconstructive elbow surgery that he needed last spring, and has been throwing for about 3.5 months. "It feels a heck of a lot better than it did when I left the game," said Bonderman, who has been throwing to his brother, John. "The ball just comes out with that late life at the end.
"You lose that much weight, it's amazing how much better your body feels," he said. "I can feel it through everything, it's a lot easier to move, and a lot easier [to throw]."
Bonderman says he'll be ready to throw for teams at the outset of January, but as he spoke, it was clear that he feels like he's open to anything, and itching to get back on the mound. "I think I could be ready before then," he said. "We'll see what happens."
• Before Atlanta picked up the 2013 option on Brian McCann, some teams checked in on his availability in a sign-and-trade scenario. But trading McCann would have been problematic: Other teams would have been looking to get him on the cheap, without surrendering major prospects, and given his stature within the organization, the Braves would have wanted decent return. McCann would have been an excellent DH-catcher option for an AL team, but nobody would have given up significant return to get him, considering the shoulder surgery he just had.
As it stands, there is a belief that McCann will be back at full speed sometime in the first quarter of the season. Braves GM Frank Wren will be looking for alternatives at the meetings this week.
Some folks within the Atlanta organization are realistic about their chances of re-signing Michael Bourn: Because of the price tag and the presence of other bidders, it's probably not going to happen.
• Sources say that before the talks between the Red Sox and Cody Ross stalled, the outfielder's side was looking for a deal of about three years and $25 million. As the market plays out, it'll be interesting to see if there is increased action on Ross and Shane Victorino as the more modest options in the free-agent market, for teams that might prefer the Honda to the Mercedes.
• Dan Haren's reps will have to convince teams that the pitcher's back is healthy enough for him to compete, because that is the issue a lot of executives are assuming blew up the Haren-Carlos Marmol trade between the Angels and Cubs last week.
• The Yankees claimed catcher Eli Whiteside on waivers. In their list of priorities, re-signing Russell Martin is not as high as addressing their pitching issues, so the Yankees continue to prepare for the possibility they might not have Martin next year. They like Martin -- a lot -- but will not overpay (in their eyes) to retain him.
Moves, deals and decisions
1. The Brewers signed a pitcher.
2. The new rules could speed up the Cubs' offseason plans, writes Gordon Wittenmyer.
4. The talks between Davey Johnson and the Nationals are at a stalemate, for now.
5. A Washington special adviser was hired by the Dodgers.
7. The Red Sox are not keeping their chief therapist.
• Willie Stargell is on a stamp.
• The Rockies' next manager faces a difficult challenge, writes Patrick Saunders.
• The Phillies have been sued.
• David Ortiz fired back at Bobby Valentine. From Enrique Rojas's story:
- "He realized that this trade meant that we're not going to run this race and we're not even going to finish the race properly and he decided not to play anymore," Valentine said Oct. 23 in an interview on "Costas Tonight" on NBC Sports Network. "I think at that time it was all downhill from there."
The soon-to-be 37-year-old Ortiz emphatically denied that deal had anything to do with him missing the rest of the season and said he ignored a message from Valentine after the interview because he thought he was dealing with someone with "some mental issues."
"No. 1, never bite the hand that feeds you, because in the end that will come back to bite you," Ortiz said. "I was one of those players that always showed support for him. In fact, I held a couple of player meetings.
"No. 2, the day that I returned from the DL, I told him that I was not sure what percentage health-wise I was in, but that I could not be out there without trying to help. When I told him that, I put my career on the side to help him and the team. Being in an incredible amount of pain, I went out there to support them.
"No. 3, after he went on national TV to say what he said, he sent me a text message trying to tell me that it was the media trying to change things. I did not respond to the message and I said to myself, this guy must have some mental issues or needs medicine or something? I said, I am dealing with someone crazy and I am not going to drive myself crazy, so it is better if I leave it alone."
• Edgar Martinez's wife ran the NYC marathon, anyway.
• A fundraiser for a Mets' staffer has been pushed back.
And today will be better than yesterday.