Valverde's return stabilizes bullpen

Valverde's return stabilizes bullpen

CLEVELAND -- For the first time in six days, the Tigers have their bullpen back in order. Jose Valverde was available again to close after missing close to a week with a lower back strain.

"Thank God I don't feel anything right now," Valverde said in the Tigers clubhouse before batting practice. "Right now, I feel perfect."

That's a good feeling for manager Jim Leyland, who had moved everyone up an inning from their customary roles to help fill the gap, which left some middle innings in the hands of lesser-tested arms.

Whenever Valverde does pitch, it'll be his first outing since May 15, when he gave up two hits and a walk while trying to pitch through the back issue he felt two batters into the inning.

The Tigers have had an extra reliever on their roster while Valverde was out, having recalled Brayan Villarreal from Triple-A Toledo late last week and sending down infielder Danny Worth. As long as Valverde is healthy and available, the Tigers will presumably make a move soon to get back to a 12-man pitching staff and 13-man positional roster.