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Tigers players back discipline of Bruce Rondon, would welcome return

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Eduardo Perez: Rondon an 'embarrassment to the game of baseball' (2:06)

ESPN MLB analyst Eduardo Perez discusses the Tigers' decision to send closer Bruce Rondon home for lack of effort. (2:06)

DETROIT -- Two things are evident in the wake of Tuesday's decision by the Tigers to send closer Bruce Rondon home for the season.

First, Rondon's teammates fully support the move, made by manager Brad Ausmus and general manager Al Avila as a response to growing concerns about Rondon's lack of maturity and professionalism. Ausmus cited Rondon's "effort level," although he declined to elaborate on the move.

Second, his teammates also recognize the sort of talent Rondon, 24, possesses and the value he can provide and would welcome him back with open arms if he uses this disciplinary action to work on those areas that appear to be lacking.

"Absolutely. Absolutely," Ian Kinsler told ESPN.com after Wednesday's 7-4 win over the Chicago White Sox. "Everybody grows up, everybody changes, everybody makes mistakes, and if he shows that he wants to compete and compete with his teammates, then absolutely."

Third baseman Nick Castellanos echoed Kinsler's sentiments and fully endorsed Rondon's return next season, provided the issues that sent him packing do not continue to be a problem and a distraction to the team.

"Without a doubt," Castellanos told ESPN.com "Because our number one goal is we want to win, and he has the stuff to help us win."

That is what makes Rondon's apparent apathy so maddening for his teammates and the organization. He is regarded as having a powerful arm, yet in recent outings he was decidedly passive in letting his fastball go. Although he is able to hit between 97-100 mph on most occasions, his fastball in his last appearance, in the ninth inning of the club's second game of Monday's double-header, was in the low-to-mid 90s.

Rondon's teammates knew something was off. So did Ausmus, who when questioned whether Rondon was injured said he felt fine.

"To be frustrated that things aren't going your way and just pout and do that, it's not going to accomplish anything," Castellanos said. "It doesn't mean that it can't click for him in the future if he figures it out, because without a doubt he has the stuff to be an All-Star closer in the game of baseball. I guess it's just all the intangibles he has to bring back together to make it complete. If this is a disciplinary action that the front office thinks is necessary, the players are going to be on board."

Castellanos said in an earlier interview with Detroit's 105.1 radio station that Rondon's "antics" bothered his teammates and that a few veterans approached Rondon about these things.

Kinsler, a heart-and-soul leader for the Tigers who has acted in many ways as the club's de facto captain, chose his words carefully. He wanted to respect the fact that Rondon remains a member of the team.

"It's kind of sensitive because Bruce is still part of this team and he's someone that can be a big part of this team in the future," Kinsler said. "So it's tough for me as his teammate to comment on the situation. I'm completely for what the organization decision is. If they want to make a decision and they think it's beneficial to the organization, then I'm for it. And hopefully, Bruce can recognize what happened and appreciate where he's at and what opportunity he has and come back and be ready for next year."

Justin Verlander, the resident leader of the Tigers' pitching staff, said he wants to set his example on the mound, and he did just that Wednesday with a dazzling performance punctuated by eight strikeouts and a final at-bat in which he fanned catcher Geovany Soto with a 99 mph fastball.

"I don't think you can say, 'OK, I'm going to set an example of effort level,'" Verlander said. "That just comes. You lead by example. I've always been someone that when I go out there everything I've got on that given day is what I give you. You know you're going to get 100 percent from me."

Asked how he felt about the Rondon situation, Verlander said, "Yeah, it's disappointing, but that was our management and Brad's decision, and it is what it is."

Disappointment seemed to be the consensus among Tigers players, with Castellanos saying he felt similarly let down.

"It's extremely disappointing, because to play in the big leagues is a privilege" Castellanos said. "And you should want to represent yourself and the organization as best you can every day you wear a uniform, you know?"

Kinsler pointed out one more thing.

"One thing you've got to remember is that talent doesn't always win. You've got to work hard," said Kinsler, a former 17th-round draft choice who worked his way to stardom in the majors. "You've got to have some sort of drive, some sort of competitive edge. It's not the team that is the best, it's the team that plays the best that wins on any particular day. Regardless of talent or results, I just want my teammates to play hard and compete and try to win, and that's really it."