PITTSBURGH -- While warming up for an appearance on Tuesday, closer Jose Valverde sprained his right wrist. Detroit hasn't placed the right-hander on the 15-day disabled list, but he probably won't see any action on Friday in the series opener in Pittsburgh. "He's better today," manager Jim Leyland said before Friday's game. "And exactly what that means, I don't know, but he's better today -- better look on his face today, pretty upbeat, so I think he's feeling much better."
Leyland hasn't appointed a closer to fill in for Valverde. If he has to, though, right-hander Joaquin Benoit would get the nod. Benoit has made 33 appearances this season, with a 1.93 ERA and 44 strikeouts. "I don't know that he can take the pounding that Valverde takes, as far as coming back, you know, so many times," Leyland said. "Valverde's pretty resilient that way. Benoit is, too, but maybe not quite as much. I'd be a little more reserved about him." Leyland has plenty of respect for pitchers who have proven they can close. The last three outs of a ballgame, he said, are by far the hardest to lock down. "There's no doubt about that," he said. "Guys are just not the same. I see guys that throw 95 [mph]. They go to close a game, and they're throwing 90 [mph]. It's a little bit different." Valderde went 49-for-49 in save opportunities last year. He has blown three saves already in 2012, and has converted 13 of 16 opportunities.
Other Tigers who have recorded saves this season are Benoit, Phil Coke and Octavio Dotel.