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Jim Leyland: Jose Valverde to be Tigers closer

The Tigers will have Jose Valverde closing games once again. (Brad Mangin/MLB/Getty Images) The Tigers will have Jose Valverde closing games once again. (Brad Mangin/MLB/Getty Images)

When reliever Jose Valverde comes back to the Detroit Tigers tomorrow he will be the team's closer, manager Jim Leyland said Tuesday.

The team purchased the contract of Valverde from High-A Lakeland on Tuesday and will ultimately throw him in the fire.  Valverde had been in extended spring training since the team signed him to a minor league deal on April 4.

Valverde went 3-4 with a 3.78 ERA and saved 35 out of 40 games for the Tigers last season.  Valverde struck out three in a Monday appearance in Lakeland.  He threw three shutout innings in Lakeland, giving up a walk, a walk, then a hit in the three appearances.

“He’s a very popular guy, he’s a very warm guy, he’s a very great teammate, one of the best I’ve ever been around,” Leyland said to the Detroit Free Press. “I just hope that this works out. This would be great for the Tigers, it would be great for Jose Valverde. But I’m not going to put the cart before the horse. Let’s just wait and see what happens and see how many days he can go in a row. He never turned down the ball as long as I had him here. He was a true soldier. He was. I think the world of him and I’ll just be glad to see him.”

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