Tigers-Valverde reunion didn't make sense in February, but does now

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider

When spring training began, even Jose Valverde's biggest supporters agreed the Tigers couldn't bring him back. Not after the way things went last October.

Thursday, the Tigers brought Valverde back, agreeing to sign their former closer to a minor-league deal.

What changed?

It's pretty obvious, isn't it? What changed is that the season has begun, the Tigers still don't have a closer and Valverde still didn't have a job.

Valverde wasn't the perfect choice. What happened last October, when Valverde was so bad that manager Jim Leyland had to pull him from the closer job, still hangs over him. If he shows up at Comerica Park and blows a save, you can bet the fan reaction won't be good.

But Leyland has always remained a Valverde supporter. Leyland has also always believed in closers, and right now he doesn't have one. Phil Coke got the first two Tiger save opportunities, converting one and blowing one, but he's not a closer.

Valverde missed all of spring training because he didn't have a job, so he'll report to the Tigers' spring facility in Lakeland, Fla. Eventually, he's sure to get a chance in Detroit.

Two months ago, there was no reason to think this reunion could work, or even that it could happen.

Now, it's easy to understand why the Tigers (and Valverde) are willing to give it a shot.

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