ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Rookie reliever Bruce Rondon returned to the Major Leagues on Friday. But manager Jim Leyland made it clear the hard-throwing right-hander will not be the Tigers' closer.
"He's not being brought back as the closer. Period. Which he is aware of," Leyland said.
Asked what Rondon's role will be in his second stint with the Tigers, Leyland responded, "Probably the sixth or seventh inning, maybe the eighth once in a while. It all depends on who's available."
Leyland also said Rondon would only be used for one inning at a time.
To make room on the 25-man roster, right hander Evan Reed (0-0, 2.61 ERA in six games) was optioned to Triple-A Toledo.
Going into Spring Training, Rondon was the leading candidate for the job of Tigers' closer. But he didn't make the Opening Day roster and struggled after being promoted in late April. Rondon allowed three runs on five hits and walked two in 2 1/3 innings, posting an 11.57 ERA in three games in his first stint with the Tigers before being sent back to Toledo.
At Toledo, Rondon went 1-1 with 14 saves and a 1.52 ERA. He struck out 40, allowed 14 hits and walked 13 in 30 outings, covering 29 2/3 innings.
"He's been pitching real good," Leyland said. "But it's rare that a guy that young is brought up as a closer. I don't think he's a total finished project yet, but I think he's made a tremendous amount of progress. He's been throwing strikes, and he's been throwing first-pitch strikes."
With Jose Valverde outrighted to Toledo, Joaquin Benoit is now the Tigers' closer.
Asked Friday if Rondon might be used in that role on nights when Benoit is not available, Leyland replied, "I'm not going there."
Leyland: July 14 starters won't pitch in All-Star Game
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla -- American League All-Star Game manager Jim Leyland said Friday that although pitchers who start games on Sunday, July 14, will be welcome on the team, he will not use them in the All-Star Game two days later.
"Pitchers who pitch on Sunday can still pitch in the All-Star Game, but I will not pitch anyone who started on Sunday," Leyland said.
Justin Verlander, who started last year's All-Star Game for the American League, is scheduled to start for the Tigers on the Sunday before this year's game -- although Leyland did not specifically mention Verlander during Friday's discussion.
"They can still make the team," Leyland said of the pitchers who start that Sunday. "They can be selected. They can go and they can pitch if they say they want to pitch. Those are the rules. I'll be glad to have them voted in. I'll be thrilled to have them there. But I will not pitch anyone from any team in the All-Star Game who started on Sunday.
"I've talked to other managers about it and I haven't found anybody who doesn't agree with me 100 percent. I want to return their pitchers to them the same way they come to me."
In other words, Leyland won't risk injuring a pitcher who started a game two days before the All-Star Game. Leyland added that if a pitcher started on Saturday, July 13, he would probably pitch him for an inning.
Sanchez to make rehab start on Monday
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla -- Anibal Sanchez will throw 60 pitches in Minor League rehab game on Monday, either at Class A Lakeland, in the Gulf Coast League or for Double-A Erie, depending upon the weather.
If all goes well, Sanchez could be ready to return to the Tigers' starting rotation next weekend.
Sanchez has been on the 15-day disabled list since June 16 with a right shoulder strain. Jose Alvarez (1-1, 3.78) has replaced Sanchez in the rotation and is scheduled to make his third start for the Tigers on Monday in Toronto.
• Alex Avila, currently on a Minor League rehab assignment at Toledo, is eligible to come off the disabled list on Tuesday. Asked Friday if Avila will rejoin the Tigers at that time, Leyland said, "He's in Toledo, rehabbing. That's where he's at."
Leyland has indicated that Avila needs to be both healthy and swinging the bat well when he returns. Avila is 3-for-20 (.150) with two doubles and an RBI in five games for Toledo.
• Andy Dirks got the night off on Friday. Leyland said he plans to rest Torii Hunter on Saturday and Bryan Holaday will probably start behind the plate in place of Brayan Pena on Sunday. Leyland said he will ask Prince Fielder if he would like to be the DH on Sunday.
• The Tigers have agreed to terms with three more selections from this month's Draft: right-handed pitcher Will LaMarche from LSU (ninth round), outfielder Raphael Rhymes from LSU (15th round) and center fielder Adrian Castano from Benjamin Cardozo High School in New York. (26th round). The club has agreed to terms with 30 of its 41 selections.
Jim Hawkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.