Tigers closer Jose Valverde has a week to forget


Tom Gage
The Detroit News

Detroit — To put it mildly, these are not the easiest of times for Jose Valverde.

There were those 60 pitches he needed Friday night to close out a victory in Boston, an appearance that meant he wouldn’t pitch the rest of the series.

Then he got sick after returning to Detroit from the trip that ended at Fenway Park.

To top it off, Valverde couldn’t get a good feel for his splitter in his second inning of work Thursday. He gave up a pair of singles on 1-2 counts, followed by a game-deciding triple in the 11th by Mark Kotsay.

“To Kotsay, that was a fastball,” catcher Alex Avila said following the 6-4 loss. “He just missed his location. It was supposed to be down and away, but it was up and in.

“The splitters hung a little bit. That’s the only way they can get their bat on the ball when he throws a split. There aren’t too many times he’s going to hang it.”

To do it twice was costly, though — which only made matters worse in these less-than-easy times.

Almost back

Carlos Guillen isn’t fond of rehab assignments. But he’s headed for one.

In advance of what should be his activation off the disabled list Monday, Guillen will join Class A West Michigan at home today, then no doubt head to Dayton for the weekend series as well.

He’s just glad it won’t include a trip to Syracuse with Toledo again.

“I ate in only one restaurant there — Denny’s,” Guillen said about a previous assignment.

Guillen said his strained right calf felt “a little tight” after he ran the bases Wednesday, but nothing severe enough to interrupt his recovery — or his plans to be activated as soon as he’s eligible.

In fact, he had hoped not to go out on a rehab assignment at all.

“I’ve been hitting almost every day,” he said. “I don’t think I need rehabbing.

“But it’s not my decision.”

Costly coasting

An early run would have helped the Tigers Wednesday night in a game they lost 4-1, so it proved costly when Austin Jackson didn’t go from first to third on Johnny Damon ‘s one-out single to right.

Miguel Cabrera ‘s fly to center would have been a sacrifice fly if Jackson had been at third.

“It didn’t go unnoticed,” manager Jim Leyland said. “We don’t let those things slide, but we don’t rant and rave and embarrass you about it. We told him use your speed.

“The only time you wouldn’t go to third on a ball is if you have to hold up on a ball and let it go by. It’s all about teaching. You don’t yell and scream at him, you don’t browbeat him, but he should have been at third.”

Gauging Galarraga

After Wednesday’s game, Leyland said Armando Galarraga is a pitcher who doesn’t trust his stuff enough.

How does a pitcher get over that hurdle?

“You can’t be pitching defensively,” Leyland said. “You have to set hitters up, make them less comfortable. That doesn’t mean hitting people, throwing at people, or any of that silly stuff.

“The idea is that hitters hit less when they are uncomfortable. You have to trust the ability you have to move somebody off the plate once in a while, then throw a pitch on the outside corner.

“He had plenty good enough stuff,” Leyland said of Galarraga, “but he has to trust it more. You could tell that every at-bat (Carlos) Quentin and (Paul) Konerko had, they were very comfortable.

“You have to somehow make them uncomfortable.”

Around the horn

Leyland said he’ll give Jackson another day off soon because “it really freshens him up both mentally and physically.”

On deck: Angels

Series: Tonight-Sunday, Comerica Park, Detroit

First pitch: 7:05 tonight-Saturday, 1:05 p.m. Sunday

TV/radio: All games on FSD/WXYT 97.1, 1270

Probables: Tonight — Jered Weaver (10-7, 3.34) vs. Justin Verlander (12-6, 3.74); Saturday — Scott Kazmir (7-9, 6.92) vs. Jeremy Bonderman (6-6, 4.84); Sunday — Trevor Bell (1-2, 5.90) vs. Rick Porcello (4-10, 5.91)

Tonight’s scouting report