Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported over the weekend that Jim Leyland “remains interested” in re-signing Jose Valverde as a “closer safety net,” but yesterday the manager pretty clearly shot that down.
“That’s not in the picture, trust me,” Leyland told Jason Beck of MLB.com. “That has not even been discussed.”
Six weeks ago Leyland said he was “totally shocked” and “heart-broken” that Valverde couldn’t find a job, but if that were true I wondered why Leyland hadn’t made the case for the Tigers to actually re-sign him. Obviously it’s possible that Leyland did make that case and general manager Dave Dombrowski simply squashed it, but in the above quote at least the manager suggests no conversation took place about Valverde coming back to Detroit.
And now Valverde isn’t even pitching in the World Baseball Classic due to “personal reasons.”
The Dodgers pulled through the five-game Championship Series without Corey Seager, but they’re counting down the days until their prized slugger/shortstop can make his first World Series appearance. He still has a ways to go before he can return to the field, however. Bill Plunkett of the OC Register reports that while Seager has been hitting off a tee, taking soft toss and running the curves of the infield, he’ll need to practice hitting in a simulated game before he can rejoin the team next Tuesday.
The 23-year-old infielder went 3-for-15 with a triple and two RBI in the NLDS earlier this month. He was sidelined in Game 3 of the series after making a bad slide into second base and sustaining a lower back strain. Although he’s made fairly rapid progress in his recovery over the last two weeks, he’s not back at 100% just yet, and Roberts said he won’t make a final decision on his status until it gets closer to game time. Even if Seager makes a successful return to his starting position, the Dodgers may not get the same .295/.375/.479 hitter they relied on during the regular season.
Provided that everything goes smoothly over the next two days, though, there’s a decent chance Seager will find his way to the infield — or, at the very least, to the plate. “We’re very optimistic,” Roberts said Saturday. “Corey doesn’t want to be denied.”