Jose Valverde warmed up for a save opportunity last night, but had to shut things down in the bullpen with wrist soreness and the Tigers instead turned to Phil Coke to close out the 6-3 win over the Cardinals.
Valverde showed up at the ballpark today feeling better, but told Jason Beck of MLB.com that he expects to miss at least 3-4 days and will be examined further by a wrist specialist before the Tigers decide if a disabled list stint is needed.
After converting all 49 of his regular season save chances last year Valverde has already blown three saves in 16 opportunities this year while posting a 4.18 ERA and nearly as many walks (17) as strikeouts (19) in 28 innings.
Joaquin Benoit is the likely fill-in closer, although Coke could get some save chances based on lefty-righty matchups.
The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.
Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.
While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.