PHILADELPHIA — Hector Rondon’s medical history set off alarm bells, but the Cubs closer downplayed any concerns about his sore right elbow.
Rondon passed a test on Saturday, throwing 11 pitches in the bullpen and hoping to be cleared by Sunday at Citizens Bank Park. As a precaution, the Cubs used Neil Ramirez in the ninth inning of Friday’s 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.
“I feel really good,” Rondon said. “Everything’s normal right now.”
While breathing a sigh of relief, the Cubs also got some bad news on leadoff guy Emilio Bonifacio, as an MRI revealed an oblique strain, leaving them with no timetable for his return.
Rondon — who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010 and missed most of the next two seasons — hasn’t pitched in a game since June 6. That’s when he blew a save, giving up three runs on four hits in what turned out to be a 5-3 win over the Miami Marlins in 13 innings. He described recently feeling some tightness with his elbow, but no sharp pains.
“I had too many surgeries before,” Rondon said, “so as soon as I feel something in my elbow, I go straight to a trainer. I don’t want to be in that (situation) again. I think it’s a good idea to go there and tell them what happened and now I feel really fine.”
The Cubs took a chance on Rondon in the Rule 5 draft after he missed most of the 2012 season with an elbow strain. The Cleveland Indians had named him their minor league pitcher of the year in 2009. He’s been a nice comeback story, stabilizing the bullpen by going 7-for-9 in save opportunities and putting up a 2.45 ERA with 29 strikeouts against eight walks.
“We’ll see how he feels tomorrow, how he reacts, but he looked good,” manager Rick Renteria said. “We weren’t concerned about it. We’re just erring on the side of caution more than anything. I think that’s the prudent thing to do, for any of our guys.”