By: Jeff Riger
Tuesday afternoon after Manager Jim Leyland addressed the media and then new and former closer Jose Valverde talked for the first time before an ample amount of reporters. Valverde admitted that he was ready to go and excited for the chance to be back in Detroit. “I’m excited to come back here and play for the Tigers, the team that I have played for the last few years and play for Leyland” Valverde said.
The one question that everybody seems to be wondering is if Valverde has his splitter back, his “out” pitch that was so effective in 2011 and before. “I have my split finger from both sides for lefties and right hander’s and I have my sinker” Valverde said. When pressed if the split finger pitch is as good as it was Valverde replied “it’s normal for what I was doing in 2011.”
For fans and even GM Dave Dombrowski the move for the veteran from Lakeland to Tigers Closer has been very quick, does Valverde feel the same way? “I was about to go to Toledo for a week or two weeks but I put myself in a good position over there (Lakeland), working hard and did everything that I had to do” Valverde said.
How Valverde does and how the fans think he does are of course two separate things. The Tigers will be happy if Valverde can throw high 90’s and work his way back to the closer he used to be. As for the fans, they will want immediate success or they will be ready to continue the hate that Valverde has received since struggling big time in the playoffs if they don’t get it. I had a chance to ask the new closer how he thinks he will be received by the fans the first time out? Valverde said “I think all my friends in Detroit are excited like me, that’s what I think.”
Valverde is also excited to get a chance to be in the same locker room with rookie Bruce Rondon, a pitcher that was supposed to be Valverde’s replacement but struggled in spring training and was just called up to the big club on Tuesday.
Watch the Jose Valverde video for all the information about the Tigers latest closer.
Oh one more thing…
Valverde was adamant that he has received other offers from other Major League teams during the offeason. “A lot of teams wanted to sign me like the Yankees and Mets, I mean other teams. The thing is I didn’t sign because I was looking for a good deal, I wanted to sign here because I wanted a chance to go to a World Series and win a different ring” Valverde said. A reporter then tried to confirm that the Yankees and Mets really did try to sign him and Valverde replied “yes Yankees, Mets and a couple teams, yeah!”
Both the Yankees and Mets have since denied Valverde’s claims.