LAKELAND, Fla. -- Jim Leyland talked about several topics during his pregame news conference on Friday.
He praised Danny Worth's arm and Nick Castellanos' bat. He discussed how Ramon Santiago, who has been out with a strained calf, is playing his first game of the exhibition season Friday.
He even talked about himself. In response to a question, Leyland, 68, said that right now, he has no intention to retire. Nor did he announce whether there's a minimum amount of years he wants to still manage.
Then, after all of that, like a closer starting to warm up in the late innings, The Topic arose.
"That's the first time that question has been asked all spring," Leyland said, getting laughs from the reporters in his office.
Then Leyland, showing a veteran's admirable perspective for the ups and downs of baseball, said about Rondon:
"Am I worried at this point? No. Because I'm not really seeing anything that I didn't expect," Leyland said a few hours before Rondon's scheduled appearance Friday against the New York Mets. "I thought I was going to see a guy come in here who wanted to show everybody he could throw it hard and go after the hitters. Like I said, so far, he's thrown it hard, and they've hit it hard.
"But it's way too early to make any prediction on how that stands. But I'll say (again), he's got the equipment. Is that equipment built up enough to be ready right now? I don't know the answer just yet."
Moments later, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports asked Leyland, "Being that he is so young, what it would take for you to feel comfortable that he's the (closer)?"
"Good question," Leyland said. "I would like to see a little more strike one, and I would like to see the secondary stuff become more of a threat. Because if the big-league hitters (can) discard everything but a fastball, you can throw it 150, and it doesn't make any difference."
Friday's outing is Rondon's first since he had a rough inning Sunday against Atlanta. Team officials had him skip a midweek outing in order to work on his delivery in the bullpen.
But no matter what, a fundamental problem remains: There's no way to replicate a regular-season save situation in spring training.
That's probably one reason Leyland said early in camp that he didn't expect to name a full-time closer until sometime after the regular season starts.
For Leyland, that was many Rondon questions ago.
(c)2013 Detroit Free Press
Visit the Detroit Free Press at www.freep.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services