Tigers add closer Valverde, shake up starters because of rain

DETROIT - Detroit lost a game to weather Tuesday night when its scheduled game against Kansas City was rained out, but the Tigers gained a closer when they announced Jose Valverde would join the club for Wednesday night's game with the Royals.

The game never got underway as the field was covered shortly before its scheduled starting time and rain began soon afterward. No makeup date was immediately announced.

Royals manager Ned Yost said Wade Davis would bump back a day to face the Tigers' Max Scherzer as originally planned for Tuesday but Luis Mendoza would be skipped again. Justin Verlander would pitch for Detroit on Thursday against James Shields.

Detroit, which earlier in the day announced the call-up of erstwhile rookie closer Bruce Rondon, made the stunning post-rainout announcement it was bringing back Valverde, the closer it dumped after a disappointing post-season.

The Tigers put Octavio Dotel on the disabled list to make room for Rondon and optioned Brayan Villarreal to Triple-A Toledo to make room for Valverde. Detroit was to announce a 40-man roster move when Valverde reported Wednesday.

"He's thrown the ball very well, consistently well," Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "He's been 93, 95, 96 (miles per hour) very consistently. And he's been using his split-finger."

Valverde's fastball had diminished to the low 90s last season and he rarely used his split-finger, leaving him a one-pitch closer who finally got solved in the post-season with three disastrous appearances. Detroit let him go as a free agent after the season but signed him to a minor league deal right after Phil Coke blew a save in the season's second game.

"We'll see," manager Jim Leyland said. "I'm thrilled to have him back. If we're fortunate enough to have a lead in the ninth inning (Wednesday), we'd put him in the game to close.

"I'll be nice to write his name on a lineup card, I'll tell you that. He's got two plusses - he's experienced and he's not afraid."

Detroit had Valverde pitch back-to-back games last Friday and Saturday for high Class A Lakeland and sent a ton of people to scout him, maybe more than were in the stands. They gave him the choice of pitching Monday or Tuesday and the reliever chose the earlier day, working a scoreless inning.

Valverde has lost 15 pounds from a year ago but Leyland didn't feel his weight was an issue last season.

"We love Papa Grande as a person," Dombrowski said, "and what he does for the organization. But (the decision to let him go) was a matter of job performance."

NOTES: Mendoza has not started or pitched since April 12 due to Kansas City having so many rainouts and days off, requiring a pitcher to be skipped. ... Detroit's Rick Porcello loses a start because of the rainout. He had missed a start earlier due to days off and was scheduled to be passed over again in May when Detroit has two days off out of four. ... Kansas City's starters have worked a minimum of six innings in each of the team's previous seven games. Starter consistency has been a long-time problem for the Royals. ... Detroit manager Jim Leyland said Rondon will be used mostly in sixth and seventh innings as he breaks into the Majors. Rondon was expected to be the closer, but didn't show enough in the spring to make the team.