Seattle signs Pasco star, former Tiger Bonderman

ryan.divish@thenewstribune.comDecember 22, 2012 

In the endless search for starting pitching depth, the Seattle Mariners have decided to give a Northwest guy a chance to resurrect his baseball career.

The team announced the signing Friday of Pasco’s Jeremy Bonderman to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training.

Bonderman, 30, had his once-promising career derailed by arm troubles. He last pitched in the major leagues in 2010 with Detroit – the only team he has played for during an eight-year big-league career. He went 8-10 with a 5.53 earned-run average.

The arm troubles began early in the 2008 season. After making 12 starts, doctors discovered a blood clot in Bonderman’s shoulder that required surgery and forced him to miss the rest of the season.

He came back in 2009 and made one start but was shut down with more pain in the shoulder. After the 2010 season, Bonderman became a free agent. He suffered an elbow injury during offseason workouts and opted to retire at age 28.

But he decided to give baseball another shot, and underwent Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in April. He has been on a throwing program and working out in the Tri-Cities in preparation for the 2013 season.

A standout at Pasco High School, Bonderman was taken with the 26th pick of the 2001 amateur draft by the Oakland A’s. Bonderman is the only high school junior selected in the MLB draft as he was 18 and earned a GED before his senior year.

After one season with the A’s, Bonderman was the “player to be named” in a three-team trade that featured Carlos Peña going from the A’s to Detroit and Jeff Weaver going from Detroit to New York.

He made his big league debut in 2003 at the age of 20. He made 28 starts and five relief appearances, finishing with a 6-19 record and a 5.56 ERA.

But he slowly built on the rough rookie season. In 2004, he posted an 11-14 record with a 4.89 ERA and a pair of shutouts.

Over the next three seasons, Bonderman had three consecutive winning records, going 39-30 with a 4.52 ERA over that span. He made three postseason starts in 2006, going 1-0 with a 3.10 ERA.

Bonderman’s career record is 67-77 with a 4.89 ERA.

With Wednesday’s trade of Jason Vargas to the Los Angeles Angels for Kendrys Morales, the Mariners needed depth in its starting rotation. Bonderman is a low-risk, low-budget move that could pay off. But expect general manager Jack Zduriencik to add more pitching in the next week or two.

Seattle likely will also announce the signing of at least one outfielder after Christmas. They are also planning to meet with free-agent outfielder Cody Ross.

Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483 ryan.divish@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @RyanDivish

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