Jose Valverde can’t convince an MLB team to sign him despite saving 35 games with a 3.78 ERA for the Tigers last season and now he’s not even going to pitch in the World Baseball Classic.
Valverde was slated to play for the Dominican Republic, but the team announced that he’s been removed from the roster due to an undisclosed “personal issue” and replaced by Lorenzo Barcelo.
Once upon a time Barcelo was a top prospect in the White Sox’s farm system, but his big-league career stalled at age 24 after posting a 4.50 ERA in 66 innings and the 35-year-old right-hander has spent the past few seasons in the Mexican League.
Cubs infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with back soreness. The move is retroactive to April 14. While it doesn’t appear to be the precursor to any serious injury, Zobrist has already missed six straight days of activity after feeling his back tighten up last weekend. Should he see the minimum time on the DL, as expected, he’ll be eligible to return by the start of the Cubs’ series against the Indians on Tuesday.
Prior to his injury, the 36-year-old outfielder raked an impressive .326/.408/.465 with three extra-base hits in 49 plate appearances. He last appeared for the Cubs during their homestand last weekend and helped propel the team to a 14-10 win over the Braves with three hits, two walks and two RBI. Provided that he can remain healthy going forward, it’s a promising start for the veteran outfielder, who has yet to return to the All-Star-worthy numbers he posted with the club in 2016.
With Zobrist sidelined for the time being, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. have shared the leadoff spot and center field duties over the last week. Happ went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts in two games before passing the baton to Almora, who collected five hits and two RBI in 11 at-bats.