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Jose Valverde still Tigers' closer - just not Sunday

Jose Valverde #46 of the Detroit Tigers sits

Jose Valverde #46 of the Detroit Tigers sits in the dugout after being pulled in the 11th inning of Game Four of the American League Championship Series. (Oct. 12, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

Jose Valverde is still the Detroit Tigers’ closer. He just won’t be their closer Sunday.

That was what manager Jim Leyland told his embattled relief pitcher on Sunday, the day after he blew a four-run lead in the bottom of the ninth in the ALCS opener against the Yankees.

“He will not close the game,” Leyland told reporters after meeting with his staff in the wee hours of the morning after the team’s 12-inning win over the Yankees.

Leyland said that he came to his decision at about 3 a.m. after watching film of Valverde’s delivery.

“It is way too slow, the tempo is not good at all,” Leyland said. “We will work with him.”

As for who will close on Sunday, Leyland said the Tigers will go to closer-by-committee. Octavio Dotel, Al Alburquerque and Joaquin Benoit are the leading candidates.


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