Results tagged ‘ Jose Valverde ’

Sunday: Tigers at Red Sox

Too many ins and outs to sum up in a paragraph or two, so here’s your rundown of who is and isn’t available for the Tigers today:

  • Johnny Damon is out of the lineup again today, but he said this morning that his back is getting better. He was going to try some swings in the cage this morning to see if he can play today.
  • Turns out Danny Worth also is ailing. He has a heel that he injured stepping hard on the bag trying to beat out a hit Friday night. He was not available Saturday, manager Jim Leyland revealed, meaning that the only player the Tigers had available on the bench was catcher Alex Avila. “If one of the infielders got hurt,” Leyland said, “I was screwed.” Worth said he can play today if needed.
  • Ryan Raburn was back in the clubhouse Sunday after spending Saturday back in Florida for his grandfather’s funeral. He’s starting in left field.
  • The bullpen today is without Jose Valverde, Phil Coke and Ryan Perry. They do not have Bonderman available in relief anymore, not with his start coming up Tuesday. Everybody else is available. Not only do none of the four available relievers have any saves this year, they don’t have any saves in their Major League careers. I have no idea what they’ll do in a save situation, so don’t ask me.
That pretty much covers it. Here are the lineups.
TIGERS
  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Rhymes, 2B
  3. Raburn, LF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Boesch, RF
  6. Peralta, 3B
  7. Frazier, DH
  8. Avila, C
  9. Santiago, SS
P: Justin Verlander
RED SOX
  1. Marco Scutaro, SS
  2. J.D. Drew, RF
  3. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
  4. David Ortiz, DH
  5. Victor Martinez, C
  6. Adrian Beltre, 3B
  7. Ryan Kalish, LF
  8. Jed Lowrie, 2B
  9. Eric Patterson, CF
P: Clay Buchholz

What is going on with Valverde?

When Jose Valverde threw just eight of his 20 pitches for strikes July 21 against Texas, it was a rare bad outing for him, one that seemed like an exception to an otherwise All-Star season. He had trouble gripping the ball, he adjusted, and that was that.
A week and a half later, everybody is trying to get a grasp on what Valverde’s problem is. And plenty of people were asking why manager Jim Leyland went to Valverde in the eighth inning Friday night and kept him in for 60 pitches to finish off a win.
Until Friday, Valverde’s season high was 27. His career-high pitch count was 48 in 2004. He hadn’t thrown more than 38 pitches in a game since 2006. Once Valverde got to 40 pitches Friday, he was still working his way into a jam, let alone trying to work his way out of it.
Valverde’s called third strike on Mike Cameron sealed the win with his 60th pitch of the night. Even if you take away four pitches for an intentional walk, his pitch total dwarts any long work he has pulled off before, and it left some fans wondering what Leyland was thinking.
Internally, Leyland was wondering a bit himself.
“That’s one of those catch-22s,” Leyland said. “I saw that happen with Joe Torre and [Jonathan] Broxton early in the season. You’re in a catch-22: Do you or don’t you? How many? 
“I don’t really know the answer, to be honest with you. I’d be lying if I said I had the exact answer. It certainly wasn’t something that we wanted to happen, but it did. We got the win. I’m sure he’s not going to pitch the rest of the series.”
To answer the first question first — what’s going on with Valverde’s struggles — the indications suggest it was more of the same as the earlier outing.
“He was just having trouble gripping, it looked like,” catcher Gerald Laird said. “He had no command, trying to find his command. That’s basically it. His velocity was good. His split had good action. He just couldn’t find his release point to put it in the zone.”
Valverde didn’t put it in those specific terms, didn’t want to talk about what might be wrong until he looks at video on Saturday. But when asked if this outing was similar to the other one, Valverde indicated his belief that it was similar.
“I didn’t have my command like I normally have,” Valverde said. “My pitches, my slider and fastball, I tried to throw to different sides. I’ll try to look at the video tomorrow and figure out what I’m doing wrong.”
Why Leyland kept with Valverde as the pitch count went up was a different question. Leyland had Ryan Perry warming up while Valverde loaded the bases and then watched David Ortiz emptied them. He kept Perry warming up. But he never showed any hint of going to him.
“I will say this: He did not pitch for four days either,” Leyland said. “So it wasn’t like he was pitched out. If he was pitched out a little bit, I would’ve never brought him in [the game] in the eighth. He hadn’t pitched for four days, so that was a good out for him to get. 
“The whole thing was throwing the ball over the plate in the ninth inning. It wasn’t so much getting hit. I mean, Ortiz got the big hit there, but it wasn’t hits. The control was the issue.”
Valverde won’t be available again until Tuesday’s day-night doubleheader against the White Sox, meaning his July numbers are finished. He gave up just two earned runs in 34 outings over the first three months. He gave up 11 earned runs in July on 14 hits in 12 innings with 11 walks and 18 strikeouts.
Suffice to say, if those numbers are a harbinger of a second-half slide, if Valverde can’t figure out what’s wrong with his grip or his command, the Tigers bullpen will fall apart from there. They’ve filled enough holes as it is, but they don’t have a ready-made fill-in closer. If he can regain effectiveness, if not the same dominance, Detroit still has a shot at a late-season rebound.
If it’s a matter of grip or mechanics, that’s one thing. If Valverde is wearing down, that’s trouble.

Avila catches; Valverde, Zumaya rest

Remember the concern going a week or two ago about how many starts Jim Leyland would find for Alex Avila behind the plate? That seems to be dissipating now, because it’s becoming obvious Leyland is finding his spots. The fact that Gerald Laird is still looking for his first hit of the season might not hurt, but still, if Avila gets a couple games a week, they’re going to be happy.

If they can get Jose Valverde outings three days in a row, the Tigers are going to be happy too. But they aren’t going to go beyond that, which is why Valverde is off today. So are Joel Zumaya and Phil Coke. If there’s a save situation today, Leyland says Ryan Perry is going to get it. He does not have a Major League save yet.

TIGERS

  1. Jackson, CF
  2. Damon, LF
  3. Ordonez, RF
  4. Cabrera, 1B
  5. Guillen, DH
  6. Inge, 3B
  7. Avila, C
  8. Sizemore, 2B
  9. Everett, SS

P: Jeremy Bonderman

Valverde: I can get maybe 74 saves here

Jose Valverde had been quoted in his native Dominican Republic as aiming for 50 saves this season with the Tigers. He reported to Spring Training on Saturday and raised that total by quite a bit.

“You know what? I can do maybe 74 here,” Valverde said.

Yes, he meant 74 saves. And yes, that would be a record, by far. Francisco Rodriguez saved 62 games with the Angels two years ago.

“This is a good team here,” Valverde said. “You look at everybody here. We have guys who guys who can hit 30, 40 home runs — Ordonez, Cabrera, all these guys. My guys in the bullpen here, Zumaya, all these guys. When the game’s on the line, Zumaya throws the eighth and he’s throwing 100, 101. This team is good. I think I can do 50 or more.”

Valverde is certainly a driven individual, and he has a high standard for what to expect from himself, and others. The same story in the Dominican last week said he was unhappy with his agents and their work on his free agency. He confirmed Saturday that he has cut ties with the agents at Beverly Hills Sports Council and gone somewhere else, reportedly to Scott Shapiro.

That shouldn’t affect how he performs with the Tigers, who signed him to a 2-year, $14 million deal last month.

“That’s over,” Valverde said. “You know what I mean? What’s in the past is in the past right now. I’m here for my team, and I support them.”

Too much pitching? Not according to Leyland

With eight or nine potential starting pitchers and a slew of relievers, speculation has percolated on what the Tigers might be able to do on the trade front by the end of Spring Training. Teams always need pitching, and the Tigers could use some offensive help, right?

Right, but there’s another statement that Leyland likes.

“The old adage that you can never have enough pitching will always hold true,” Leyland said Saturday morning.

“We don’t have too much pitching. I like what we’ve got. I’m really happy with what we’ve got. But the old adage still applies.”

That doesn’t mean that Leyland is against any trades. That’s Dave Dombrowski’s department. But clearly, Leyland likes to have as much pitching as he possibly can.

Leyland cited another phrase of his.

“There’s no such thing as a 12th pitcher for me,” he said. “If you’re going to be good, every pitcher is important.”

As evidence, he cited 2006, when Jason Grilli made some key appearances for them, and Zach Miner proved vital as a fill-in starter for Mike Maroth over the summer.

As far as the lefty relief corps, Leyland didn’t argue the point that they can probably only take three southpaws in the bullpen. But he did point out that Phil Coke and Bobby Seay both have a history of effectiveness against right-handed hitters.

More tidbits from Saturday morning:

  • Jose Valverde arrived at camp today and is working out, so all pitchers have reported. Max St. Pierre also reported, leaving Gerald Laird as the lone catcher not in camp yet.
  • Magglio Ordonez quietly came in today, quickly grabbed a bat and headed for the cages. He’s ready to go. Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Guillen aren’t here yet, but should be in the next few days.
  • On the top of relief pitching, Leyland mentioned a note he received following last year’s tiebreaker loss. “I got a letter from a lady chewing me out for not bringing in Verlander in relief,” he said. That wasn’t going to happen.
  • Leyland said he’ll use Valverde similar to how he used Fernando Rodney, bringing him in just for one-inning saves unless it’s an emergency situation, extra innings or he needs work to stay fresh.

Few Tigers delayed to camp (Damon not included)

The good news for the Tigers on reporting day is that they don’t have another Francisco Cruceta situation on their hands. You remember him from 2008, right? He was the reliever who was stuck in the Dominican all spring with visa problems after he was supposed to be a big solution to the Tigers’ bullpen depth. Instead, Denny Bautista opened the season as Detroit’s setup man.

The bad news for the Tigers is that they have a few guys who are going to be a little late to camp:

  • Closer Jose Valverde is expected to get in on Saturday. He’s dealing with a personal situation, according to manager Jim Leyland.
  • Catcher Gerald Laird won’t be around until early next week, probably Tuesday. His sister is getting married this weekend.
  • Catcher Max St. Pierre is also expected to arrive Saturday. He and his wife are expecting their first child, if she hasn’t already given birth.

Other than that, I think all the pitchers and catchers are in. Leyland joked that he might have coach Gene Lamont don catching gear again if they need an extra body to catch bullpen sessions. Brandon Inge definitely won’t, not with his knees.

As for the Damon thing, I can confirm that there’s an open locker in the corner of the Tigers clubhouse, right in front of Leyland’s office. It belonged to Casper Wells last year, but he’s been moved over to the other side. Still, that doesn’t mean Damon’s going to fill it. Considering it sits next to Cabrera, it could also go to Andres Galarraga. Really, if I were going to put Galarraga in the clubhouse somewhere, that’s where I’d put him.

Tigers outright Larish to Toledo

The mystery of how the Tigers would create roster space for Jose Valverde has been solved. They outrighted the contract of corner infielder Jeff Larish to Triple-A Toledo.

It’s a surprising move when you consider how valued he was last winter, to the point that the Tigers wouldn’t deal him to Seattle in any trade talks for J.J. Putz. He was set up to be a valuable left-handed bat and role player last year, and he made the Opening Day roster, but he batted .216 in 32 games before going to Toledo in early June. He hit .265 with a .397 on-base percentage, six home runs and 26 RBIs in 61 games there, but struggled down the stretch before undergoing surgery on his right wrist.

Larish will still be in Major League camp as a non-roster invitee, so he’ll still have a chance to crack the roster.

The Tigers now have more pitchers (21) on their 40-man roster than position players.

Hold that thought on Phil Coke

I know it was a pretty big story when Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said Tuesday that lefty Phil Coke would be stretched out and potentially viewed as a contestant for the fifth starter’s spot. But manager Jim Leyland indicated he still sees Coke’s future in relief.

“Personally, I’m looking at him more as a bullpen guy,” Leyland said. “I think we’re going to have enough issues when you talk about Galarraga bouncing back and Bonderman bouncing back and Nate Robertson bouncing back and Dontrelle Willis bouncing back. There’s only so many innings.

“Am I ruling it out? No, I’m not. But you can only give so many innings to so many guys in Spring Training, and the one thing you want to make sure is that you’re getting the guys ready that you know need to be ready.”

That said, he has quite a few relievers, too. And now that he has Jose Valverde at the end of it, he thinks the rest of the bullpen is going to fall into place.

He did not hide his happiness for the Valverde deal.

“Getting a closer was just humongous for us,” Leyland exclaimed. “Now you can kind of work backwards and fill in some holes here and there. Here’s the sixth inning, seventh inning, eighth inning. Now Bonderman comes back, Zumaya comes back. Nate [Robertson] and Willis, you don’t know how that’s going to play out. But with Scherzer, Porcello, Verlander, all of a sudden you look pretty good.”

He also did not hide his hope for another left-handed hitter.

“We’d like to have one,” Leyland said. “It’s just not that easy to find.”

Other Leyland tidbits included his outlook on the catching situation, where Alex Avila’s potential playing time is a looming issue to determine whether or not he sticks with the big club.

“Normally playing time is dictated by performance,” Leyland said. “The better you play, the more you play. We obviously have a pretty solid everyday catcher that was as good defensively last year as anybody in the league but needs to produce a little more offensively. Alex got a little experience — not a whole lot, but some good experience last year.

“I think Gerald put a lot of pressure on himself last year at handling the staff, learning the pitchers. I’m not making excuses for him; but I think he’ll be better offensively this year. I may be wrong, but I believe that. I think last year he really concentrated on getting to know Verlander and the pitchers and make sure he was handling the running game and all those things that he did so well for us. I think he’ll relax a little bit more offensively this year and produce more. We need him to produce some more offensively, there’s no question about that. And he knows that.”

Tigers formally announce Valverde deal

The Tigers formally announced their signing of All-Star closer Jose Valverde on Tuesday to a two-year, $14 million contract with a club option for 2012.

Valverde was scheduled to be introduced on a conference call Tuesday morning.

A National League saves leader in two of the past three seasons, Valverde’s 116 saves over the last three years tie him for fourth in the Majors in that span with Jonathan Papelbon, trailing just Francisco Rodriguez, Joe Nathan and Francisco Cordero. The 31-year-old right-hander had 25 saves and 45 games finished last year, but his supporting numbers were basically as strong as usual. He scattered 40 hits over 54 innings, struck out 56 and allowed just five home runs as part of a 2.33 ERA.

The move bolsters a Tigers bullpen that has stockpiled young talent over the past few years, led by Joel Zumaya and Ryan Perry, but lacked a proven option for the ninth inning after losing Fernando Rodney and Brandon Lyon to free agency. Zumaya, Perry, Bobby Seay and others will now set up for one of the most vaunted closers the Tigers have had in several years.

Valverde has never pitched in the American League. He spent his first five seasons with the Diamondbacks before he was traded to Houston after the 2007 season. His save totals last year suffered in part with the Astros’ slow start, but he went 19-for-19 in saves from July on. In the process, he held opponents to a .206 batting average and .580 OPS while posting a 1.67 ERA.

Ironically, the Tigers were responsible for Valverde’s last blown save. Brandon Inge’s ninth-inning homer off him June 28 at Minute Maid Park sent Detroit to a 4-3 victory.

By signing the Type A free agent, the Tigers give up their first-round pick in this summer’s First-Year Player Draft, the 19th overall selection, to the Astros. It would mark the first time since 1991, after the Tigers signed Rob Deer, that Detroit has given up its first-round Draft pick. However, the Tigers have two compensation picks coming at the end of the first round for losing relievers Rodney and Lyon.

Lyon signed a three-year, $15 million with the Astros last month, while Rodney agreed to a two-year, $11 million contract with the Angels on Christmas Eve. In essence, Detroit swapped Lyon for Valverde with Houston, with the Astros getting a first-round Draft pick and the Tigers getting a sandwich pick.

Source: Tigers, Valverde agree to terms

The Tigers are poised to sign the veteran closer they hoped to add. They agreed to terms Thursday with Jose Valverde on a two-year contract with an option for a third, a source close to the negotiation confirmed to MLB.com pending a physical.

Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports first reported the deal, worth $14 million plus a $9 million option for 2012. Tigers officials would neither confirm nor deny the agreement.

By signing the Type A free agent, the Tigers would give up their first-round pick in this summer’s First-Year Player Draft, which would be the 19th overall selection. It would mark the first time since 1991, after the Tigers signed Rob Deer, that Detroit has given up its first-round Draft pick. However, the Tigers have two compensation picks coming at the end of the first round for losing relievers Fernando Rodney and Brandon Lyon to free agency

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