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Closing Thoughts: Valverde is 'not ready yet'

Andy Behrens
Roto Arcade

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Jose Valverde (calf) has pitched in back-to-back games, but he's clearly not OK. Check the video evidence here. If you're losing a footrace with Prince Fielder, it's a bad sign. This is what Valverde had to say to the Houston Chronicle:

"Maybe I have to take two more days; I don’t know."

He also told MLB.com's Alyson Footer, "I'm not ready yet. I don't feel 100 percent, but I have to support my team."

You shouldn't expect him to be available at Cincinnati this week, which would mean even more LaTroy Hawkins. The 36-year-old Hawkins has pitched in eight of the Astros' last 12 games, and there's no rest in sight.

Before the inevitable spreadsheet, here are a few other notes on closers who are stiffening, tightening and/or struggling...

Joakim Soria is at least playing catch, but Trey Hillman has made it clear that he won't be rushed back:

“We’ll see how he is (today) ... He might play catch again, he might not ... He’s a very valuable commodity to have and I’m not going to push it.”

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Scott Downs is two-for-two on save opportunities, filling in for the ineffective and allegedly injured B.J. Ryan. Downs has 14 Ks in 10.2 innings for the Blue Jays thus far, and his ERA and WHIP are ridiculous (0.84, 0.47). He looks like more than just a short-term play.

Brandon Morrow's shoulder issue has been described as "stiffness" and "pinching." Whatever it is, he claims it isn't new, and he doesn't expect it to linger. This from the Tacoma News Tribune:

“I’ve had this each of the last two years. It’s a chronic problem. If my shoulder hurts, this is where it hurts. It takes about three days to get better, then I’m fine.”

Here's a reassuring note from Geoff Baker's blog over at the Seattle Times:

Morrow is also questionable with that stiff shoulder, though, as we were talking to Wakamatsu in the dugout, Morrow returned from a bullpen session and gave his manager the "thumbs up!" sign three times.

David Aardsma picked up a messy save in Morrow's absence on Saturday. Under normal circumstances, Aardsma and Shawn Kelley (7.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 6 K) are the Ms to own for holds.

In his last five appearances, Chris Ray has gone 4.2 innings, surrendering five hits, two walks, no runs, and he's struck out eight batters. This has earned him the curious title, "No. 2 closer."

Carlos Marmol's knee injury didn't look like much at the time, and subsequent reports have been encouraging. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that he should be available to pitch on Tuesday, assuming today's bullpen session goes well.

Matt Lindstrom is still clinging to his job. "There's something special there," says Fredi Gonzalez.

Rafael Soriano finally gave up a run on Friday, and Mike Gonzalez finally picked up a second save.

Trevor Hoffman has been activated from the disabled list, and he'll close immediately according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Brian Bruney (elbow) hit the DL, which is bad news for the Yankees and those of us who own Bruney in holds leagues. According to the New York Daily News, "Bruney was diagnosed with a strained flexor mass, and while he won't throw at all for the next week, the Yankees believe he'll miss only 2-3 weeks."

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