Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 4/4/13
Michigan-news-february
Now that Jose Valverde has signed a minor-league contract with the Tigers, the obvious question is: When will Papa Grande be back as the closer? The obvious answer is: When he can once again command his out-pitch, the split-fingered fastball at Triple-A Toledo. Valverde lost the ability to throw the splitter effectively late last season and became a one-pitch guy. However, FOX Sports Detroit Tigers analyst Rod Allen said the clubs scouting report on Valverde sounds as if hes gotten his repertoire back in order. His velocity is a little better, Allen said during Thursdays game telecast from Minneapolis. And he threw some split-fingered fastballs that were very good. Valverde repotedly is throwing mid-90 mph fastballs back home in the Dominican Republic. Allen went on to say that Valverde, 35, has lost weight and gotten into good shape. Hes hungry, Allen said. We shall see. Valverde saved 110 games for Detroit the last three years, including a club-record 49 without a blown save in 2011. Hes certainly worth a look-see with the closer-by-committee approach hardly making anyone feel secure. The Tigers can say that Phil Cokes blown save Wednesday in Minnesota didnt influence the decision on Valverde, who they've been talking about with agent Scott Boras for over a week. But the timing of the signing was not a coincidence in that regard. Tigers manager Jim Leyland and general manager Dave Dombrowski fully realize that an effective closer is all this club lacks. But they cant be too patient with Valverde if the splitter isnt splitting. Raul Ibanez of the New York Yankees crushed a Valverde splitter that din't break downward -- in essence a fastball down the pipe -- and tied Game 1 of the 2012 ALCS at Yankee Stadium. That was the end of Valverde as a credible closer. Having also blown the lead in Game 4 of the ALDS in Oakland a few days before deemed him unusable in that role. Valverde must go to extended spring training in Lakeland, Fla., and get his pitches and command down before getting a shot at closing for the Toledo Mud Hens. If he looks effective at Toledo, Valverde comes back to Detroit to attempt to close games. If he works out, Dombrowski told reporters hes already discussed the parameters of another contract with Boras. Detroit would be glad to pay good money again for a good Valverde. He made 9 million last year. Were trying to get better however we can, Dombrowski told FOX Sports Detroits John Keating of the signing. Valverde has a May 5 opt-out of the minor-league contract if hes not recalled to Detroit by then, which makes the deal low-risk financially. What do the Tigers do if Valverde remains a gopher-ball machine? They either hope somebody like Al Alburquerque shakes out of the committee as a confident closer, trade with a team such as the Washington Nationals (they have a closer surplus) or wait on Brian Wilson. Wilson is throwing again one year after his second Tommy John surgery, and Scott Miller of CBSSports.com quoted a source as saying Wilson will not throw for teams until hes 100 percent. He was listed at 80 to 85 percent one month ago and several weeks away from signing. If Wilson can still bring it, he becomes a great option for Detroit. But they might have to beat out his old team, San Francisco, because Giants manager Bruce Bochy hasn't ruled out going after his old reliable. One things for certain: Papa Grande is going to get a shot.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Twitter, Facebook report engagement decline during Super Bowl

Steve Spurrier becomes special assistant to South Carolina AD

Brent Musberger wants you to bet on Joe Lunardi’s bracketology

Unranked Duke uses big first half to beat No.13 Louisville

MLB reportedly close to rule preventing collisions at second base

USOC says athletes concern about Zika shouldn't attend Games

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Von Miller shares support for embattled Johnny Manziel

The Panthers had to use a silent snap count at the Super Bowl

Report: Lakers would fire Byron Scott to hire Luke Walton

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Seahawks’ Frank Clark rips Cam Newton ‘that boy a b—‘

Report: Tom Thibodeau has 'always wanted' Knicks job

Daniel Bryan says goodbye to WWE during teary retirement speech

Paul George delivers great line about driving by Kobe Bryant

WATCH: Oklahoma beats Texas on Buddy Hield's 3-pointer

Andre Drummond hits 70-foot buzzer beater to end 3rd quarter

Duke's Allen appears to intentionally trip Louisville's Spaulding

Candidates for New York Knicks head coaching job

Attorney alleges Johnny Manziel ruptured ex-girlfriend's eardrum

Jeanie Buss may clean house in Lakers’ front office

Lisa Ann wants to reward Emmanuel Sanders for Super Bowl win

WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan to announce retirement

Nine best and worst players from 2015 NFL playoffs

Rodman wants Phil Jackson to know he’s ready to coach Knicks

Wade Phillips trolls Cam Newton with dabbing tweet

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Did Beyonce almost fall down during Super Bowl halftime show?

Curry to serve as drummer for Panthers

Report: Marshawn Lynch plans to retire

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker