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Jose Valverde Won’t Close For Tigers On Sunday

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Jose Valverde pitches in the ninth inning in Game 1 vs. N.Y. Yankees. (Getty Images/Elsa)

Jose Valverde pitches in the ninth inning in Game 1 vs. N.Y. Yankees. (Getty Images/Elsa)

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By RONALD BLUM/AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) – Jose Valverde won’t close for the Detroit Tigers in Game 2 of the AL championship series but manager Jim Leyland says the reliever is keeping his role for now.

“I guess that sounds like I am mud watching, but I am really not. I still consider him the closer, but he will not close the game,” Leyland said. “We will do some work with him.”

Valverde allowed a tying two-run double to Oakland’s Seth Smith on Wednesday in Game 4 of the AL division series as Detroit lost 4-3, then gave up two-run homers in the ninth inning to the Yankees’ Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez in Saturday’s ALCS opener. Detroit rebounded to win 6-4 in 12 innings.

After converting all 49 save chances during the 2011 regular season, the 34-year-old right-hander was 35 for 40 this year. Leyland and pitching coach Jeff Jones were examining Valverde’s delivery at 3 a.m.

“It is way too slow. The tempo is not good at all,” Leyland said. “I don’t even know if I am right about it, I probably shouldn’t say it, but I will say it anyway, it almost appears to me that it looks like he is kind of waiting for something bad to happen. And I don’t know if I am accurate on that, I may be totally wrong. But sometimes when you read a player, you can see that he’s not quite as confident. And he is normally very confident. But I think there is something to this mechanical part of that. I definitely think that.”

He planned to decide on his closer Sunday based on matchups.

“I cannot give you one name. I have a suggestion box down by my office,” Leyland said.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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