7/11/2013 5:15 P.M. ET
Porcello drops appeal, suspension reduced to five
By Jason Beck and Bobby Nightengale / MLB.com
DETROIT -- Rick Porcello made it through his last start before the All-Star break, which is pretty much all he wanted to accomplish by appealing his suspension. So with his first half over, Porcello dropped his appeal Thursday morning and prepared to spend the weekend as a spectator.
Porcello can do his usual pregame routine in uniform, but he can't be in the dugout or clubhouse once the game starts.
"It'll be weird not being down there [in the dugout]," Porcello said Thursday morning. "It's going to be a long suspension, because the [All-Star] break's going to be in between. Gotta make sure to stay mentally focused as much as I can."
In exchange for dropping the appeal, Porcello's six-game suspension was reduced to five by Major League Baseball. Porcello will serve four games leading into the All-Star break, leaving him with one game to serve next Friday in Kansas City.
Manager Jim Leyland hasn't announced his second-half rotation yet, but with only Max Scherzer currently on track to pitch in the All-Star Game -- unless Anibal Sanchez is added -- the Tigers shouldn't have any trouble finding fresh pitchers to start before Porcello is eligible.
More importantly, by timing it this way with the appeal, Detroit did not have to use a spot starter. With no scheduled off-day in the final 20 days before the break, the Tigers had no way to simply skip Porcello's spot before now.
"It worked out fine," Porcello said.
Porcello's suspension came down last Tuesday after he hit Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist on his right shoulder with a pitch in the first inning on June 30, one day after Miguel Cabrera and Leyland took offense to Rays closer Fernando Rodney throwing a pitch up and in on Cabrera.
It's not unusual for players to go more than a week between appealing a suspension and having a hearing on it.
Porcello didn't want to voice much opinion about the suspension, but he admitted he was surprised by it.
Rondon still feeling way around Majors
DETROIT -- Although Bruce Rondon gave up two extra-base hits and a walk in the seventh inning of Wednesday's win over the White Sox, manager Jim Leyland said he believes Rondon will have success at the Major League level.
Gordon Beckham hit a solo home run off Rondon on a 0-2 slider that was meant for the dirt but stayed over the plate. Rondon then issued a walk, threw two wild pitches and gave up a double before ending the inning. It was the second time in six appearances since he was recalled on June 28 that he's allowed a run, and the second time in nine appearances this season he's allowed multiple runs.
"He's fine, I think he's going to be very usable," Leyland said. "But you might as well make up your mind, you're going to have some growing pains, that's just the way it is. To expect him to come up here and wipe out the big leagues night after night, that's not going to happen. But he has a lot of ways to help our ballclub, and I think he will."
According to the data and statistical website Brooks Baseball, Rondon is throwing an average of four sliders in each appearance since his return to the Majors, and Beckham's home run was the first hit against his slider.
"He's a weapon," Leyland said. "I was glad to see him throw some sliders, because it makes the fastball better, and when it's a fastball like that, it's a lot better. Like I said, he's not a finished product, but he'll be fine."
Said Rondon: "I've adjusted to my pitches and I trust my breaking ball more."
Pitching coach Jeff Jones has helped Rondon make small adjustments with his arm action so it's harder to pick up his 101-mph fastball.
"There's a reason some guys throw 95 and throw it by people, and other guys throw 95 and they whack it," Leyland said. "Most of the time it's either straight as a string, it's in the middle of the plate, or they pick it up real quick. In his case, he's kind of in between. He's probably got to do a better job, but he's hiding it a little better."
Brookens may be All-Star third-base coach
DETROIT -- Tom Brookens never made it to an All-Star Game as a Tigers third baseman in the 1980s. But he could be in the third-base coaching box for Tuesday's Midsummer Classic at Citi Field.
All-Star managers often give the managers they've appointed as coaches -- in this case, White Sox skipper Robin Ventura and Toronto's John Gibbons -- the first chance to coach the bases in the game. However, Ventura sounded a little reluctant about doing that when asked Thursday morning.
"I don't know if that's a good idea," Ventura said. "We'll see when we get there. [Leyland] said, 'You can do whatever you want,' but we'll see."
Leyland is bringing his entire coaching staff to the game. If they don't coach the bases, they'll be in the dugout. If neither Ventura nor Gibbons wants to coach third, Brookens will, Leyland said.
"I'm looking forward to it," Brookens said. "I never had the opportunity to go as a player, so just to experience it one time, it'll be fun."
• Triple-A Toledo catcher Brad Davis made his professional pitching debut for the Mud Hens on Wednesday in a 12-0 loss to Louisville. He pitched the ninth inning, walking the bases loaded before inducing a fly out and a double play to escape the jam. The Hens were short a reliever after the Tigers recalled Evan Reed on Sunday.
• Tigers catching prospect James McCann went 0-for-2 with a strikeout in Wednesday's Eastern League All-Star Game. His Double-A Erie teammate, Will Startup, pitched a perfect fifth inning for the Western Division All-Stars in a 5-0 win. McCann will represent the Tigers on Sunday in the MLB All-Star Futures Game at New York's Citi Field.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Bobby Nightengale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.