Valverde impresses in first Minor League outing
ANAHEIM -- Jose Valverde's first Minor League game went about as smoothly as his extended spring training outings did. He pitched a hitless seventh inning for high Class A Lakeland on Friday night against the Blue Jays' Class A affiliate at Joker Marchant Stadium.
Valverde walked the leadoff batter, Peter Mooney, but promptly erased him on a double play. Valverde ended the inning with a strikeout of Kevin Patterson.
The plan the Tigers have laid out calls for Valverde to pitch another inning for Lakeland on Saturday night before team officials meet about his situation next week. Though the original plan called for Valverde to face more advanced hitters at Triple-A Toledo before the Tigers decided whether to sign him to a Major League deal, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski indicated earlier this week they wouldn't necessarily need to do that.
It's possible the Tigers could make a decision as soon as next week. Even if they don't, it looks increasingly likely the Tigers will reach a decision before the May 8 deadline specified in Valverde's opt-out clause.
Coincidentally, the Tigers' series at Angel Stadium this weekend brings Dombrowski face to face with Valverde's agent, Scott Boras, who has club seats behind home plate. The two were seen chatting briefly during pregame batting practice on Friday evening.