Jose Valverde is not an option at this point and bringing him back to Detroit has not been discussed, Tigers manager Jim Leyland told reporters, as tweeted by the Detroit News' Tom Gage on Monday.
Leyland's statements essentially refute a report on Twitter by the New York Post's Joel Sherman, who on Saturday noted that the Tigers' lack of an established closer is one reason that Leyland wanted Valverde back in Detroit. Of course, as some have pointed out, there were no on-the-record quotes from Leyland, not even the hint that he actually told Sherman anything. The tweet read more as speculation than it did reportage of fact.
Leyland did praise Valverde in February, though there was no indication that he was lobbying for the return of Valverde. Rondon has struggled a bit this spring, certainly. He allowed a run on two hits, a walk and a wild pitch Friday. On Sunday, he gave up a walk and another two hits, including a home run.
The Tigers have made the decision to skip Rondon's next planned start, and the term "closer by committee" has again creapt into their vernacular. But Leyland reiterated to reporters that Rondon is still very much in the team's ninth-inning plans: "Nobody is writing off Rondon. It's way, way too early for that."
This is probably not the last time during spring training the topics of closing, Rondon or Valverde will come up in the Tigers' camp. However, it is the most vehement denial yet of any possible return of Valverde.