Winter League Highlights: Rondon trying to bounce back

After undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery, it can be difficult for a pitcher to regain confidence in the arm. That’s what Cubs prospect Hector Rondon is dealing with now. Except he’s returning from multiple surgeries to the same elbow.

The Venezuelan right-hander, whom the Cubs selected with the second overall pick of last week’s Rule 5 Draft, underwent Tommy John surgery in August 2010 and had another procedure in December 2011, wiping out much of the last three seasons. After throwing just seven innings in 2012, Rondon is trying to work his way back to his 2009 self, when he was named the Indians pitching prospect of the year.

To get some innings under his belt before reporting to Spring Training in mid-February, Rondon has been playing winter ball for the Leones del Caracas in his native Venezuela. The reliever has eased back into things, pitching 19 innings in 21 appearances. At first glance, his 4.26 ERA and 2-1 record are nothing to get excited about. But after struggling in three of his first four games—he surrendered four earned runs in his first appearance—he reeled off 14 straight outings from Oct. 23-Dec. 1 without giving up an earned run. Since Dec. 1, he’s given up one earned run in each of his last three appearances.

On the winter, the ground ball pitcher has not surrendered a home run and has struck out 11 batters.

Because he was selected in the Rule 5 Draft, Rondon will have to be on the team’s active roster for the duration of the season or be offered back to Cleveland.

There were no games played yesterday as Mexico and Puerto Rico were off, and the Dominican and Venezuelan leagues are on their All-Star breaks.

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