Valverde to stick in Lakeland a while longer
Jose Valverde’s road potentially back to Detroit is going to keep him in Lakeland a little while longer. It sounds like he’ll be in the minors longer than that.
Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski confirmed the immediate plans on Valverde and the thought process going forward. His next outing will be Wednesday in an extended Spring Training game. If all goes well, Dombrowski continued, the plan is for Valverde to pitch Friday and Saturday for the Class A team in Lakeland.
No plans are set from there. Part of it depends on how Valverde pitches, but part of it also depends on the weather around the Midwest.
“It’s a decision for us to make sure he continues to work,” Dombrowski said during pregame batting practice Tuesday at Safeco Field. “He’s doing fine. His progress has been fine. We just continue to analyze, and we’ve worked with him too, wanting to make sure where his comfort zone is.”
Asked if Valverde needs to pitch at a higher level in the minors before the Tigers make a decision, Dombrowski said, “Higher level than extended [Spring Training], yes. We’re going to put him in A-ball for sure. But we have until May 8 to make a decision, so I would think at some point [yes].
“At this point, we’re not just going to leave him in Lakeland and make a decision. Our plans would be to move him up, but the weather has been so bad. We don’t want him to go and join the Toledo club and all of a sudden be sitting there for three or four days in a shortened time period and not pitching because of the weather.”
That doesn’t mean they have to pitch him in Toledo, Dombrowski cautioned, to make a decision.
The May 8 date, it turns out, is the day Valverde can exercise the opt-out clause in his minor-league contract if he’s not in the Majors by then.
It is not a May 5 opt-out as previously reported. It was originally May 5, but was pushed back when visa issues delayed Valverde’s arrival to Tigers extended Spring Training.