Sunday, February 18, 2018
Sports

Tigers' Valverde prepared to adapt

DETROIT — Jose Valverde threw a few pitches during Detroit's workout then returned to the dugout as upbeat as usual.

Valverde's role for the World Series still isn't clear, but the right-hander doesn't seem to mind.

"I don't care. All I want is to be a champion," he said. "If I had to start, I'd do it."

Valverde has been Detroit's closer for three years and didn't blow a save through all of 2011, but this postseason has been ugly. He lost Game 4 of the AL Division Series against Oakland and gave up four runs in the AL Championship Series opener against the Yankees. The Tigers went on to win that game and sweep the series, but Valverde hasn't been used since.

The World Series begins Wednesday at either St. Louis or San Francisco. Valverde sounds confident he has made the necessary mechanical adjustments, and so does manager Jim Leyland.

"I think everybody's making too big of a deal of the Valverde situation. Valverde's going to be ready. There's nothing wrong with Valverde. He's going to be fine," Leyland said. "I got a kick out of it. Nobody wanted me to pitch him, but everybody asks me every day if he's going to be the closer. I don't know what they expect, but I'm going to just see what happens."

Leyland went with other options after Valverde's meltdown against the Yankees. LHP Phil Coke got the save in Games 2 and 3.

BELTRAN OKAY: Cardinals RF Carlos Beltran, who returned to the lineup for Friday's Game 5 of the NL Championship Series after sitting out Game 4 with a strained left knee, spent part of Saturday's day off in the training room but should play today.

"He said it's pretty good," manager Mike Matheny said. "He is the one in here that is getting treatment. So we listen to how he feels and then what the trainers see. But right now, it seems to be everything is good."

Beltran said the knee reacted well after Game 5.

LINCECUM IN PEN: Giants Game 4 starter Tim Lincecum should be available in relief for Game 6 tonight. The two-time Cy Young Award winner will be on two days' rest after throwing 91 pitches in 42/3 innings in Thursday's 8-3 loss.

DELMON TO OF: ALCS MVP Delmon Young will play in the outfield in the National League ballpark during the World Series, Leyland said. The former Ray is considered a poor defensive player and was Detroit's DH during the AL playoffs, but Leyland wants to keep his bat in the lineup. Andy Dirks, who has started in leftfield for all nine postseason games, could share time in right with Avisail Garcia and Quintin Berry.

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