Jose Valverde throwing for scouts in Dominican Republic

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While the Tigers are prepared to begin the season with a closer-by-committee approach, Jose Valverde is still out there looking for a job.

According to Jason Beck of MLB.com, Valverde’s agent, Scott Boras, said today that his client has thrown bullpen sessions for scouts from multiple teams in recent days in his native Dominican Republic and has more planned. Boras declined to say which teams have taken a look at Valverde thus far, but he expects a deal to come together fairly soon once the upcoming workouts are complete.

“Our plan was to wait and see what closer options availed themselves at this time,” Boras said.

After finishing fifth in the AL Cy Young Award balloting in 2011, Valverde averaged a career-low 6.3 K/9 last season and lost his grip on the closer role during the Tigers’ World Series run. The 35-year-old right-hander is open to a one-year deal, but a reunion with Detroit is considered “highly unlikely.”

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.