Leyland hopes Valverde’s ready “in the very near future”
There was no off-day workout in Detroit on Monday, so the media access was limited to conference calls. That included manager Jim Leyland, who continued to carefully walk a tightrope on Jose Valverde’s status.
In title, as expected, he remains the closer. In actuality, the Tigers still have a closer by committee for now, and he’s going to play the matchups. But Leyland sounded like somebody who didn’t plan on having Valverde on hiatus for long.
“I am hoping that Valverde in the very near future is ready to take back over,” Leyland said. “As I said, that is pretty important that we have him.”
Leyland has talked about the importance of getting Valverde back as a part of this bullpen. Monday was the first time he directly referenced getting him back closing, other than saying he’s the closer.
On that same conference call, however, he sounded like Valverde’s still very much a work in progress.
“We have to make sure we get Valverde straightened out,” Leyland said. So you do what it takes to win the game. Whatever you think is your best option, that’s what you do.”
Valverde wasn’t available Monday, but he said after Sunday’s win that his pregame side session with pitching coach Jeff Jones went well.
“It’s good — so far,” Valverde said.