Jose Valverde is headed to Single-A

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When last we checked in on Jose Valverde the 35-year-old former closer was dominating Canadian teenagers, but Jason Beck of MLB.com has an update.

Beck reports that Valverde is now done with extended spring training and is expected to move up to Single-A this weekend. And if that goes well he’d likely head to Triple-A at some point next week, putting him in position to rejoin the Tigers’ bullpen at any time.

After failing to generate any big-league offers all offseason Valverde came back to the Tigers on a minor-league contract two weeks ago. For now manager Jim Leyland has decided on Joaquin Benoit as the primary closer, but if Valverde does rejoin the bullpen it’s hard to imagine him not getting a chance to reclaim ninth-inning duties.

Report: Shohei Ohtani has sprained UCL in pitching elbow

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The Angels signed Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani for a $2.3 million signing bonus last weekend. They may have damaged goods on their hands. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Ohtani underwent a physical that revealed a first-degree sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament. As a result, he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on October 20. This was made known to teams after Ohtani entered MLB’s posting system, so it wasn’t like the Angels went into this blind.

Ohtani’s report said, “Although partial damage of UCL in deep layer of his right UCL exists, he is able to continue full baseball participation with sufficient elbow care program.” It also said Ohtani “will most likely be available to start his throwing program approximately a month from the PRP.”

Passan notes that the report also mentioned that a “small free body” floats in Ohtani’s elbow near his UCL.

Ohtani isn’t without other injuries. He battled hamstring and ankle issues throughout 2017 and underwent right ankle surgery back in October. Thankfully for the Angels, this diagnosis is about as good as it could be considering the circumstances. However, if Ohtani does exacerbate his UCL issue, he may ultimately need Tommy John surgery at some point, which would take him out of action for at least a year.