A winter scouting report on prospective Detroit Tigers closer Bruce Rondon: He's extremely fond of cologne and requires a translator to speak with you.
Whether Rondon's impressive minor-league numbers translate into success as a big-league closer, that report won't be filed until a later date.
The 22-year-old right-handed Venezuelan sensation, who roared up the ladder from class-A Lakeland to AAA Toledo last season, is being viewed as the solution to the problem that Jose Valverde became during Detroit's failed World Series bid last fall.
With his boyish smile, the six-foot-two, 190-pound Rondon hardly comes across as imposing, but his 100-mphplus fastball and the numbers dotting his career stats line - more than a strikeout per inning and about a walk every two innings, not to mention a .172 opposition batting average - suggest otherwise.
It's a suggestion that seems to have the Tigers poised to at the very least start the 2013 American League campaign with Rondon closing.
"I think I can make it and contribute this year," Rondon said through an interpreter during Thursday's Tiger Caravan stop at Comerica Park. "I thank everybody who believes in me.
"I'm not going to let anybody down."
Tigers manager Jim Leyland, while admittedly intrigued by Rondon's potential, seemed less sold on the idea of a World Series contender rolling the dice with such an unproven commodity as the ace of their bullpen.
"People think the closer thing is overrated," Leyland said. "I disagree with that.
"When the Yankees were winning all the time, they had Mariano Rivera. All the good teams have good closers - (Brian) Wilson in San Francisco, (Joe) Nathan up there in Minnesota, (Bobby) Jenks over in Chicago."
Whether Rondon is prepared to add his name to that list without a single inning of major-league experience won't be known for certain until he's actually asked to close in a big-league ballpark.
"You really can't simulate that," Leyland said. "You've got to wait until the season starts. They don't mean anything in spring training.
"We'll get an idea about his arm, and a little bit about his makeup, which I want to find out. But you really don't know until the bell rings how he's going to respond."
Baseball history suggests that Rondon won't be the answer.
No team has ever won the World Series with a closer as young and as inexperienced as him.
Not that the Tigers are entering this experiment without alternate solutions at their disposal.
If the flame-throwing Ron-don flames out, Leyland could opt for the same closer-by-committee approach he took last year after Valverde imploded.
"I hope I don't have to do that, because it puts a lot of pressure on everybody," Leyland admitted.
"But we can do that. "I've done that several times in my career and I have no problem with that, but it's not the ideal situation."
Trading also remains a solid option and there's an excellent bargaining chip to barter in right-handed starter Rick Porcello, rendered redundant when Anibal Sanchez was inked to a new deal.
Porcello is going about his spring-training preparation amid such rumours.
"What I have control over is preparing and getting ready for the season," Porcello said. "Wherever that leads me to help this team win, it is what it is."
Rondon watched from afar as the Giants swept the Tigers in the 2012 Fall Classic.
"I wished I was part of it," Rondon said.
If the Tigers stick with their plan, he'll be a big part of it this season.
It's a risky move, but apparently, it's a risk the Tigers are willing to take.
Tigers schedule, B3
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