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Leyland not ruling Valverde out of save situation

DETROIT -- The Tigers still had a bullpen by committee going into Game 3 of the American League Championship Series on Tuesday night. The only difference from Sunday was that Jose Valverde was on the committee.

After Valverde spent Sunday working with pitching coach Jeff Jones on his delivery, manager Jim Leyland said it's possible Valverde could close out Game 3.

"I'm going to wait and see how things play out," Leyland said Tuesday afternoon. "It could happen. I'll wait and see how things play out, how the lineup looks, who's coming up."

Later, Leyland said he had "two or three plans in place" for how he'd go in the ninth inning. Valverde is part of at least one of those plans.

"I can tell you right now I don't have a definite closer etched in stone tonight," Leyland said.

When asked if the state of the series -- the Tigers entered Tuesday with a chance to take a 3-0 series lead if starter Justin Verlander could hold down New York -- would factor into the decision, Leyland said it would not.

Bottom line, it appears certain that at some point this postseason, Valverde will be closing again, whether full or part time. Whether he's pitching his best, if they can get him pitching effectively, that might be enough for Leyland, who wants to get his setup staff back in order rather than having to pitch a man down.

"I am a firm believer that we definitely, without question, need Jose Valverde to win. I truly believe that," Leyland said. "And I think it's also important that you're kind of making a plea to your crowd, and maybe it sounds a little selfish or whatever, but to just not have too short of memory. ...

"I know the old what-have-you-done-for-me lately stuff, but that's guy's good. And I'm just going to have to play this one with managerial instincts. I may be right, I may be wrong."

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