Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Closing Chores May Be in Store for Jose Valverde

Diamondbacks relief pitcher Jose Valverde, returning to Phoenix from Tucson with a sparkling 1-0 record and 3.06 ERA in 15 relief appearances there, may eventually work his way back into the closer's role he lost to Jorge Julio. Julio has been somewhat spotty with four losses, three blown saves and an ERA topping 4.00, while Valverde had been among the league leaders when he saved 14 games during the first seven weeks of the season. A lot depends on whether Valverde has regained his confidence after watching his ERA burgeon to more than 8.00, prompting his subsequent demotion July 4. Valverde has reportedly retained his 97-mph heater and other skills that won him the closer's job in the first place, but must avoid what manager Bob Melvin sees as his becoming predictable with his pitch selection.