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Jim Leyland: Jose Valverde's finish to career in Detroit 'broke my heart'

Tigers manager Jim Leyland was heartbroken by the way Jose Valverde's time in a Detroit uniform ended so abruptly.

Ed Zurga

After watching his All-Star closer fall apart in the postseason, Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland told Chris Iott of MLive.com that he is saddened by the way Jose Valverde's career in Detroit came to a close.

Currently a free agent after not having his contract renewed by the team, the 34-year-old Valverde wore out his welcome with the Tigers after imploding over a series of appearances throughout the playoffs. Leyland though, spoke of being genuinely impressed with Valverde as a human being, and how he feels the backlash he took in the media is unfortunate.

"I've never had a player that I've had more respect for than Jose Valverde," Leyland said. "It broke my heart the way it kind of ended for him, because he took some beating, and that's only natural."

Team president and general manager Dave Dombrowski has already stated that the Tigers will not pursue Valverde in free agency, a decision that further exemplifies the massive decline for a man once revered as the most dominant closer in the game. A handful of names are expected to compete for Detroit's currently vacant closer position in 2013, and it's clear that the new ninth-inning guy will have big shoes to fill in Leyland's eyes.