Valverde's sore wrist is a concern, after he can't go in 9th
It looked like Tuesday’s game against the Cardinals was going to be no different, as the Detroit Tigers’ ace was cruising until the seventh inning, then turned his game over to the bullpen.
But after a stellar 1-2-3 eighth inning by set-up man Joaquin Benoit, the phone in the bullpen started frantically ringing again, as Valverde sat slumped over on the bullpen steps, unable to continue warming up because of soreness his right wrist.
“The last pitch I throw, my wrist start getting sorer and sorer,” said Valverde, who got an X-ray and an MRI after the game to figure out why.
The results were not immediately available.
“I think I’ll be OK, you know what I mean. Go get an MRI right now, and figure it out. ... He told me nothing serious (after X-Ray). The doctor say it’s not too bad,” said Valverde, admitting he was nervous. “Yeah, I’m nervous, because I don’t know yet what’s going on. I think everybody’s nervous.”
So is everyone else.
While the mercurial closer has had his troubles this year, he’s still the closer, and it’s not like the team needs another injury. The bullpen just got veteran reliever Octavio Dotel back earlier Tuesday afternoon.
“Sure. Yeah,” manager Jim Leyland said, asked if he was concerned. “But you know what? I can’t do anything about that, either. I’ve seen it too many times where something happens, and people sit around and feel sorry for themselves. That’s the way we operate around here. We’ll do whatever we have to do to get by.
“You step up, and put somebody else in there. That’s what you do. You don’t have a choice.”
Tuesday, the guy that got thrown into the breach was Phil Coke, who was given the hurry-up call.
“I just thought he’d gotten enough reps (repetitions) in or whatever. Then the phone rings, and they say I need to get up, so I got up and threw a couple short ones, got on the mound, got it rollin’, went out, did my job. And I don’t know what’s going on with Jose,” Coke said. “I don’t think about any of that. If the phone rings for me, and he asks me to get up, I get up, ready to do my job. And go do my job. I don’t think of anything else.”
It probably helped that he didn’t have any time at all to think about the situation he was being thrown into.
“Well, I don’t typically try to do any of that, anyway. It’s kind of dangerous,” Coke joked. “I enjoy that. I enjoy the, ‘Uh, oh. Get hot.’ For some reason. I don't know. I’m probably just really weird. It’s more fun for me that way.”
The lineup fell perfectly for the Tigers, too, in that the first two guys due up in the ninth were left-handed hitters, in Skip Schumaker and Daniel Descalso. That forced Cardinals skipper Mike Matheny to pinch hit for both.
Coke struck out Shane Robinson swinging, then got Tyler Greene to ground out, before Rafael Furcal lined out to third to end the game.
“He did a good job. He’s always going to give you whatever he’s got. Sometimes he’s a little hyper. It probably was a blessing maybe that it happened fast,” Leyland said. “Those last three outs are different outs. People learn that every day in this game.
Should Valverde be sidelined for any amount of time, the closing duties would most likely fall to Benoit, who’s been lights-out as the Tigers’ set-up man.
“I’ll probably shoot myself in the foot, but I think he’s the best set-up guy in the league. Rarely gets any credit,” Leyland said over the weekend. “Just my opinion, for whatever it’s worth.
“He’s awful special, but I gotta watch him.”