Exactly one week after leaving a game in the ninth inning with a strained back, injured Detroit Tigers closer Jose Valverde is reportedly available out of the bullpen for manager Jim Leyland in Tuesday night's series opener with Cleveland.
Valverde available tonight for #Tigers. Jackson swinging in cage right now to see if he can go. Lineup waiting on that.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) May 22, 2012
Valverde has struggled mightily this season with an inordinately-high 5.51 ERA and a pair of blown saves over just 17 appearances. The man they call 'Papa Grande' doesn't look quite as sharp as the guy who reeled off 49 consecutive saves last season, but it's clear the Tigers don't have many viable options to finish games behind him.
Knowing how back injuries of this nature tend to linger though, it's conceivable that Valverde could find himself sitting for a few games in the near future if his workload piles up again and he's not fully healthy. So while Tigers fans should breathe a huge sigh of relief that Valverde looks to be back in the mix, he will certainly need to answer a few questions with his play over the next week or so.