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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to defend their three straight American League Central titles.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Valverde pitches scoreless inning in extended spring game


The process is in progress.

Once the Tigers signed their former closer, Jose Valverde, to a minor-league deal last week, there were certain things he was going to have to show them, like whether or not he's rediscovered some of his lost velocity, and whether or not his split-finger is still a viable part of his repertoire.

"I would say that’s a fair assessment," said manager Jim Leyland, when asked if Valverde had become a one-pitch pitcher last year. "That’s why he’s going down there to see if that’s there, if that’s part of his repertoire. That’s why it’s a process, and obviously no immediate plans."

Step one of the process was going to extended spring training in Lakeland, Fla., and getting up to game speed there.

Valverde threw a bullpen session on Wednesday, then threw one scoreless inning in Friday's extended spring game vs. the Braves, the Tigers said, striking out one and walking one. He's scheduled to throw in a Monday scrimmage, as well.

From there, if all goes well, he may head north to Triple-A Toledo. The minor-league deal he signed with the Tigers on April 4 has an out clause if he's not brought up to the big leagues by May 5.

The 35-year-old Valverde was 3-4 with a 3.78 ERA and 35 saves last regular season. But he had a dramatic postseason implosion, giving up nine earned runs in just 2 2/3 innings of work, blowing leads in Game 4 of the American League Division Series and Game 1 of the AL Championship Series, and was not initially pursued by the Tigers when he became a free agent after the season.

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